Minestrone is a perfect expression of all kinds of exciting new vegetables coming into season. April is certainly here, but the fact is we're not quite there yet with the produce (at least here in Chicago) where you can simmer fresh vegetables with some water and call it dinner (my favorite variation is with some pesto stirred in). That's why this recipe caught my eye: It's rich and satisfying thanks to root vegetables, but bright and leafy thanks to the canned tomatoes and a winter staple like kale.
But the real secret here is farro, the Italian grain. Nutty and chewy, it's sort of like barley but with a much more interesting flavor and texture. It adds something substantial without turning it into health food.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 cups farro
- Salt to taste
- 1 large bunch kale, ribs removed and leaves roughly torn
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- Grated Parmesan cheese for serving
Heat olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat until shimmering, then add onion and leek. Cook until softened, about 4 minutes, then add garlic and thyme cook for an additional minute.
Add stock, carrots, celery, farro, and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer 15 minutes, partially covered.
Add kale and tomato and simmer until kale is tender and farro is cooked, 20-25 minutes more. Season soup to taste and serve with grated Parmesan.