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Chickpea, Porcini and Farro Soup

Every ingredient in this warming peasant-style soup, from the chickpeas and fresh herbs to the farro and porcini mushrooms, invokes Tuscany. For the most authentic pairing, serve with a Chianti Classico.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (9 1/2 oz./295 g) dried chickpeas, picked over and
      rinsed
  • 8 cups (64 fl. oz./2 l) cold water
  • 1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) olive oi
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 small fresh rosemary sprig 
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste 
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) warm water
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l) vegetable broth or water 
  • 1/3 cup (2 oz./60 g) farro

For the mushrooms:

  • 1/2 lb. (250 g) fresh porcini or cremini mushrooms, brushed
      clean
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oi
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 2 Tbs. dry white wine 
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. unsalted butter

  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Directions:

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl with water to cover and soak for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Drain the chickpeas, rinse well and place in a large saucepan. Add the cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the chickpeas are tender, about 2 hours.

In a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and rosemary sprig and sauté until the onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. In a small bowl, dissolve the tomato paste in the warm water and add to the pot. Stir in the chickpeas and their cooking liquid, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 3 minutes. Add the broth, return to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the flavors have blended, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Discard the rosemary sprig.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender and return it to the pot. Alternatively, process the soup in the pot with an immersion blender. Bring the soup to a simmer over medium heat. Add the farro and cook until tender yet still slightly chewy, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the mushrooms: Cut away the tips of the mushroom stems and thinly slice the mushrooms lengthwise. In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the wine and thyme sprig and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook, stirring often, until the mushroom juices have evaporated, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the thyme sprig. Stir in the butter.

Stir the mushrooms into the soup. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with a grinding of pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2011).