2-1. Specialities of the Garfagnana

 

Il farro della nonna (Farro and bean soup)

This is a classic version of minestra di farro, the traditional farro in a bean purée. The soup tends to thicken (ed: it’s a stand-up soup!) so add water until you reach the desired consistency.

Serves 8-10

300g dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight in water
5 cloves garlic
1 full sprig sage
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
4 Italian plum tomatoes, skinned and chopped
2 medium potatoes, cubed
300g farro
2 sprigs rosemary
Lots of salt and freshly ground pepper

Cook the soaked beans in the water in which they have been soaked, plus enough extra to cover by about 5cm. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat as much as possible and simmer with 2 peeled cloves of garlic and a large sprig of sage. Add more water as necessary. After about 2 hours, the beans should be cooked.

Meanwhile, chop the remaining 3 cloves of garlic and sauté in the olive oil in another pan. Add the chopped onion, carrot and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes over a low heat. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook until the tomatoes soften into the other vegetables. Add the potato, mix well and cook for another few minutes. Put the contents of the pan into the cooked beans and their water, and continue to cook for another 40 minutes. Purée the entire contents, and add enough water to make a creamy, thick consistency. If it looks too thick to absorb the farro, add more water. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Put the blended soup back into the pot. Add the farro and the rosemary and cook for another 30 minutes. Allow to stand for at least another hour. If the soup becomes too thick, add some more water. Serve warm with fresh olive oil and a grinding of pepper – and heartily devour with thick slabs of bread.

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