Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pureed Chickpea Bean Soup with Farro and Porcini Mushrooms (Crema di Ceci con Farro e Funghi Porcini)

I found this recipe in a Tuscan cookbook Jason's co-worker Nancy gave us for Christmas one year.  The original recipe calls for starting with dried chickpeas which I simply didn't have time to deal with during the week.  Here is our take on it.  I'll give you the recipe how it is supposed to be made, and then give you the steps I took to rememdy my premature addition of the farro!


2 1/2 15oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tbsp tomato paste
salt, freshly ground black pepper and white pepper (optional) to taste
8 cups (32oz) vegetable stock
1/3 cup farro
Hot sauce to taste (approx. 1tsp)
Red wine vinegar to taste (approx 2 tsp)


1/2lb fresh porcini mushrooms, brushed clean
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic crushed (you will remove after sauteeing for a few minutes so crush instead of chopping)
2 tbsp dry white wine
1 fresh thyme sprig
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large soup pot over med-low heat warm the olive oil.  Add the onion, garlic and rosemary and sautee until onion is softened and translucent.

In a small bowl dissolve the tomato paste in 1 cup warm water and add to the pot.

Add the chickpeas and the stock, season to taste with the salt, black pepper and white pepper if you like.  Return to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes.

Remove the rosemary sprig.  ***Blend the soup with an immersion or stand blender until creamy

Return the soup to a simmer over medium heat, add the farro and cook until farro is tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut off the tips of the mushroom stems and thinly slice the mushrooms lengthwise.

In a large sautee pan heat the oil over medium heat, add the garlic, cook until golden and fragrant and then remove the garlic.

Add the mushrooms and stir until they begin to soften, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Raise the heat to high, add the wine and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, until the alcohol has evaporated. 

Reduce the heat to low, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until the mushrooms are cooked through and their juices have evaporated. 

Remove the thyme sprig.

Add the mushrooms to the soup and combine.  At this point I added the hot sauce in increments as well as the red wine vinegar.  I think this addition really helps to round out the soup and I have learned that most soups can benefit from a dash of acid at the end, in this case, in the form of red wine vinegar.

***Here is where things got a little ugly for me.  I distractedly dumped the farro into the pot before pureeing the soup!  What I did was scoop out ladles full of the chickpea and farro mixture and picked out the chickpeas, adding them to the blender.  When I had as many as I was going to get I added some of the liquid, pureed and returned it to the pot.  I contemplated waiting until the farro was cooked through and just pureeing all of the soup, chickpea, farro and all but was very concerned about what would happen to pureed farro.  This method of correction was incredibly tedious but seemed to work.  It also left some whole chickpeas in the soup which I actually enjoyed for added texture.

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