My brother-in-law is coming to visit and he is having trouble with his teeth. So I am planning a soft, low-chewing soup for dinner. This side of the family also likes their food pretty American standard, so heavy spices are out as well. However, I can work with that.
I really like using faro in soups, because it sheds starch as it cooks and you do not have to add any extra thickening agent to give you a hearty soup. “True” Farro (Triticum dicoccum) is a Tuscan wheat. It is a marvelous grain to use in any dish that you would normally use rice or barley. Semi-pearled farro is available at many Italian and high-end grocery stores.
Karl’s Chicken, Kale and Farro Soup
½ lb. kale, trimmed (see notes)
6 chicken thighs, coarsely ground or minced
1 Tbs. soy sauce
½ tsp. sugar
3 Tbs. butter, separate uses
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
2 medium carrots, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, minced
32 oz. chicken broth
¼ cup dry sherry
1 tsp. thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup farro
Salt & pepper, to taste
1. Wash and shred the kale into half inch slices.
Tip: Cut away the tough center stems. Roll the leaves into a cylinder and cut crossways in half inch strips.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the kale for 5 minutes.
3. Drain the kale and put it in a bowl of cool water.
4. Grind or mince chicken and add soy sauce and sugar. Let marinate for 1 hour refrigerated.
5. Melt the one tablespoon of butter in a soup pot over a medium heat and cook the chicken until just starting to brown. Remove the chicken to a plate to cool.
6. Add the rest of the butter and the chopped onion to the pot, without cleaning it. Sauté the onions until they are just starting to pick up some color.
7. Add the chopped celery and carrots. Sauté until the vegetables are beginning to soften (about 5 minutes).
8. Add the garlic and cook one minute more.
9. Return the chicken to the pot and rinse and juices off the plate with one cup of hot water.
10. Add the chicken stock, sherry, thyme, bay leaves, farro and 2-3 cups of water to the pot and bring it to a boil.
Tip: The faro will soak up a lot of liquid as it cooks. You may chose to add more water later if the soup is turning into a stew.
11 Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
12. Add the kale and continue simmering for 10 minutes more, until the faro is al-dente.
Tip: Squeeze as much water out of the kale as you can before adding it. You may also add the kale as large half inch strips or chop it finely before adding it.
13. Season to taste with pepper and salt and serve.