Kale and Vegetable Soup with Farro

by Catherine Walthers, from Soups + Sides

This is similar to an Italian vegetable soup, only better (and easier) with added nutrients from kale and a quick-cooking and delicious Italian grain called farro. A type of wheat imported from Italy, farro offers a mildly chewy, nutty flavor, similar to barley, which can be substituted if farro is unavailable. To create a vegetarian version add water instead of stock plus 2 parmesan rinds.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 leek, all parts, rinsed and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 large carrots (about 2 cups), sliced into half moons
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 1/2 cup farro*
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with the juice
  • 1/2 bunch (about 3 cups lightly packed) kale, stems removed, chopped
  • Pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, to taste

In a soup pot, heat the oil and sauté the onion over medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the leek and sauté until leeks are softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another 1 to 2 minutes. Add stock, carrots, celery, thyme, farro and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer soup, partially covered, for 15 minutes.

Stir in chopped kale and tomatoes. Bring to a boil again, turn to low and simmer a final 15 to 20 minutes, until farro and kale is tender. Taste the soup and add additional salt – I used about 2 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt – and a few twists of pepper. Top each bowl with parmesan cheese for more depth of flavor.

*Using barley instead of farro: Farro can be found in Whole Foods Market in the dried pasta section, or in an Italian market if you live near one. If you can’t find farro, use barley instead. Decrease the amount to 1/3 of a cup of barley and increase the initial cooking time to 30 minutes, for a total of about 50 minutes.