A perfect winter dish, this soup feels at once both healthy and comforting. It calls for chewy, nutty farro, which marries well with the creamy texture and subtle flavor of the beans. Leafy greens top the soup just before serving; they slowly wilt as they are stirred in, creating a balanced meal in a bowl.
Cranberry Bean and Farro Soup
- 1 cup (7 oz./220 g) dried cranberry beans
- 3 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into chunks
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 6 cups (48 fl. oz./1.5 l) low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 fresh oregano sprigs
- 1 cup (7 oz./220 g) pearled farro
- 1 can (15 oz./470 g) diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 6 oz. (185 g) thickly sliced pancetta, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups (1 1/2 oz./45 g) baby spinach
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
1. Pick over the cranberry beans, removing any misshapen beans or grit. Rinse under cold running water. Put the beans in a large bowl, add cold water to cover by at least 2 inches (5 cm) and let stand at room temperature overnight. Alternatively, for a quick soak, put the beans in a large pot, add water to cover by at least 2 inches, bring to a boil, remove from the heat, cover and let soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans.
2. Transfer the beans to the slow cooker. Add the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, broth and oregano and stir well. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Uncover and stir in the farro, tomatoes, vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper. Re-cover and continue to cook on low for 2 hours longer. The beans should be tender but not mushy, and the farro should be tender but still slightly firm.
3. About 5 minutes before the soup is ready, in a heavy fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pancetta and sauté, stirring frequently, until the pancetta is crisp and golden, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. When the soup is ready, remove and discard the oregano sprigs.
4. Ladle the soup into shallow individual bowls. Top each serving with an equal amount of the spinach, then garnish with the Parmesan and pancetta and serve immediately. Serves 6.
Learn to make the most of your slow cooker with this and other inspiring recipes in our Quick Slow Cooking, by Kim Laidlaw.