When you work at home, figuring out what you are going to eat for lunch is often a choice between leftovers, granola bars, or tearing into a bag of chips – basically anything that is quick and that you can eat while still typing on the computer.
Monday was a cold, foggy day and I went looking for something in the kitchen. Hmmm, what is available? Our refrigerator is relatively empty right now, must be time to go grocery shopping. Oh well, I’ll get to that later. How about the pantry? I must have something I can work with in there!
So I headed to do some pantry diving. You’ve heard of dumpster diving, right? Well on Monday I went pantry diving and I came up with some interesting ingredients. I selected a bag of farro, some beef broth (my last box of stock – again, really time for groceries), canned tomatoes and chiles. There were lots of other things, but I wanted a very simple meal … these would be the perfect ingredients to start with.
Farro (a.k.a. emmer wheat) is an ancient grain that I have fallen in love with in the past few years. Full of wonderful flavor and texture, it is actually really good for us. I use farro perlato, a form of farro that has had a portion of the outer bran removed. This allows it to cook more quickly without requiring any pre-soaking. It is rich in protein, magnesium, and fiber. Aren’t we lucky that in addition to being healthy it is incredibly delicious!
Make sure that you use the directions on the package as a guideline (each form can take different times to cook), but ultimately you should taste a few grains and decide when it is at the perfect doneness for you.
I wanted to make a soup to warm me on the damp, cold day. I followed the basic directions on the bag of farro except that I doubled the amount of liquid required and threw in 1 extra cup for good measure. Then I added some aromatics (shallots), tomatoes for color and nutritional value, and mild green chiles for a touch of heat. A few fresh herbs at the end of cooking (optional) adds a nice touch and in less than 30 minutes I had the most wonderful soup.
This is the beauty of a well-stocked pantry. You can always find something to work with. Some days I stand in front of the open cabinets and just look for inspiration – and it usually comes to me ;o) When you are stocking your pantry, look for things that can be the base for many dishes … beans, grains, pasta, stocks, sauces, seasonings, and don’t forget the flours and sugars for baking!
I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I did. It is easy, inexpensive, really fast to make and you can make it with items in your pantry – no race to the grocery store required!
Have a wonderful day!!
Tomato-Beef and Farro Soup
Jane Evans Bonacci – The Heritage Cook © 2012
Yield: about 4 servings
6 cups low sodium beef broth (can substitute chicken or vegetable broth if desired)
1 cup water
1 can chopped or crushed tomatoes
1 to 2 tbsp chopped mild green chiles (fresh or canned)
1 shallot, peeled and minced, optional
1 cup farro perlato (you can substitute pearled barley)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, optional
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large saucepan, combine the broth, water, tomatoes, and chiles. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallot and farro. Reduce the heat to medium-low, keeping the soup at a very low boil. Partially cover the pan with a lid and cook, stirring often, about 25 to 30 minutes or until farro is tender. Add the thyme if using.
Taste and adjust seasonings with the salt and pepper. Serve hot.
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