Winter has finally left and the sun’s been shining just about every single day. The temperatures are warming up and whenever the cold east wind stops blowing for a few moments I feel like I am on a tropical island. Oregon has a fairly mild year-around climate, but it can and does get quite cold at times. While the cold isn’t all that bad, the seemingly endless wet and drippy grey days can get a little depressing. But then the sun comes out and makes up for all the dreariness we’ve had. During that time, cold nights and warmer days, a not-to-heavy soup often tastes good at night. It warms you up, but not too much!
Here’s a soup that combines chickpeas, farro and an assortment of everyday vegetables. I made this soup in my Instant Pot using dried garbanzo beans. While preparing everything I else for this soup, I soaked the chickpeas and farro together in boiling water. If you don’t have an electric pressure cooker you can soak the beans and farro the same way and then cook the soup on the stovetop. It will just take a little longer.
And yes, you could also use canned beans but I don’t recommend it. Once you start cooking with dried beans you’ll never want to go back to canned. The dried beans have a much better flavor and a superior texture. In addition you are in control of how much salt you add. And last but not least, if you find a good source of dried beans you’ll be amazed at all the varieties there are. I haven’t bought a single can of beans since getting my pressure cooker a few years ago! 🙂 It’s become one of my all time favorite kitchen appliances. Also be sure to consult your pressure cooker manual to make sure you’re being safe.
Chickpea & Farro Vegetable Soup
- 1 1/2 cups of dried chickpeas, checked for pebbles and rinsed
- 3/4 farro, rinsed
- olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- several cloves of garlic, minced
- a few sprigs of parsley, thyme and a couple of bay leaves
- 3 large carrots, sliced
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 or 3 leeks, washed well and cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into half-moons
- a small piece of parmesan rind (omit if you’re vegan)
- a few fresh sage leaves
- 1 (14 oz) can of chopped tomatoes with juice
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- fresh lemon juice
- fresh baby spinach or other fresh tender greens chopped into bitesize pieces
- freshly ground black pepper
- red pepper flakes if you like a spark of heat
- a little freshly ground parmesan is nice for serving the soup
Wash and sort your chickpeas and then add the rinsed farro to the same large bowl. Pour about 1 1/2 quarts of boiling water over them and let them soak while you get everything else ready.
Set your Instant Pot to sauté and add a splash of olive oil in the Instant pot insert. When hot add the onions, carrots, celery, leeks, sprigs of parsley, thyme, sage and garlic. Stir and cook until the vegetables start to soften a bit.
Next, add the tomatoes and their juice and a few pinches of salt. Cook gently for around 10 minutes or until fragrant and the mixture has thickened a little.
Drain the chickpeas and farro and add them to the vegetable mixture. Also add the parmesan rind at this point. Stir until everything’s combined well and then press cancel on the Instant Pot.
Add the tomato paste, bay leaves, chili flakes if using, a little more salt and 1 1/2 quarts of water or vegetable broth. Place the lid onto the Instant Pot and make sure the vent is closed.
Cook on high pressure for about 35 minutes. Let the soup depressurize naturally. When the pressure’s come down carefully open the lid. Taste the soup and make sure that the garbanzo beans are tender. If they need a little more time just put the sealed lid back on a cook it on high for a few more minutes. The timing can be a bit of a guessing game since it’s never clear how “old” dried beans from the store are.
When the soup’s done, fish out the bay leaves and parmesan rind. The parmesan rind can be scraped “clean”, wrapped in a freezer baggie and frozen until you add it to another soup! It adds a really nice flavor to the broth.
Right before serving add lots of fresh baby spinach or any other greens that you like and let them wilt into the broth. Stir everything until well combined, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Sometimes a little fresh lemon juice add just the right zip to this soup.
Top individual bowls with a little freshly grated parmesan – or not –
red pepper flakes and a little freshly ground black pepper.