Shopping with my mom at a west suburban Italian grocery store I came across a treat, fresh borlotti beans! I talked about the dried version here and my husband's new found obsession with them. Finding them fresh was quite a treat and I gave them to Jason as a present!
As you can see the borlotti pods and beans, also known as cranberry beans or roman beans are a beautiful mottled cranberry red and off-white color. They have a slightly nutty flavor which works great with the nuttiness of the farro.
Browsing at Crate & Barrel the other day I saw a recipe for a borlotti bean and farro soup in a tuscan cook book which inspired this dish. I did some online searching and created a hybrid of recipes I saw along with the availability of what was in my fridge at the time, which included the fresh borlotti beans!
If you do not have fresh borlotti beans, you can always use dried beans. Soak them overnight and then simmer for an 1 - 1 1/2 hours until tender. You may have to adjust some of the cooking times in this recipe, I feel like the fresh beans took a little longer to tenderize during the first part of this recipe, than if I had used cooked dried beans. However, as with most soup recipes, times and quantities are approximate, adjust as you see fit!
1 cup farro
1 1/2 cups fresh borlotti beans
1 medium onion finely diced
2 stalks celery finely sliced
1 large carrot finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2-3 cups vegetable stock
2 cups beef broth
water as needed
salt and pepper
red wine vinegar
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
--In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion, celery and carrot, seasoned with salt and pepper, about 10 minutes
--Add the garlic and saute another 3 minutes
--Add the tomato paste, 1 1/2 cups of the vegetable stock and 1 cup of the borlotti beans. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cover cooking about 30 minutes, until beans are tender. Add more vegetable stock if needed
--Using an immersion blender, blend the soup to thicken as desired. Taste and season again with salt and pepper. Add a dash of red wine vinegar here if desired.
--Add 1 cup farro, 1/2 cup borlotti beans, 2 cups beef broth and water if needed and simmer for 25 minutes or until farro is cooked. Stir occasionally so the farro doesn't stick together.
--Near the end of the 25 minutes, throw in the leaves of a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme and another dash of red wine vinegar if desired.
--To serve, ladle into bowls and drizzle with some good olive oil and pour yourself a glass of a nice, rustic red. Enjoy!
**Note: you may add more or less liquid as needed. I used beef and vegetable broth because I had some beef broth I had opened earlier in the week which I needed to use up. I also thought it would be a nice compliment to the farro and make the soup a little heartier. You can always use just vegetable stock to a vegetarian option.