Soup that’s hearty enough for dinner needs to include three things: A protein source, a whole grain, and a boatload of vegetables. Make that four things: A little something extra to beguile, to intrigue, to keep your spoon going back for more. This soup hits all those notes and then some. Canned white beans add protein—and pureeing a portion thickens the broth nicely. Quick-cooking farro adds a chewy, nutty element. Kale, tomatoes, carrot, and celery take this firmly into nutritious territory. And two ingredients add that extra something: bacon, because of course, and a piece of Parmesan rind, because it brings a mysterious, umami depth to the broth. At my supermarket cheese counter they sell little containers of rinds, but I save money by stashing mine in the freezer whenever I grate a fresh hunk.
The best part: You’ll be ladling out bowlfuls in less than 45 minutes, making this perfect for a blustery weeknight. Add a loaf of crusty bread and some grated Parm, and see if this doesn’t ring your bell, too.
Debbie Koenig is the author of the cookbook Parents Need to Eat Too. She lives with her family in Brooklyn.
- 2 (15-ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
- 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
- 2 strips bacon, chopped small
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup quick-cooking farro or barley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 Parmesan rind, optional
- 4-5 cups chopped kale leaves (one 5-ounce package cut kale)
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- Grated Parmesan, for serving
Put 1 can of drained white beans and 1 cup of broth in a blender and puree. Set aside.In a Dutch oven or large, heavy pot, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels. Add onion to the bacon fat and cook until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, carrot, celery, and farro; season with salt and pepper and cook another 4-5 minutes, until vegetables soften.Stir in everything but the grated Parmesan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover; simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender and farro is cooked but still has some bite. Taste and adjust seasoning—depending on your bacon and your broth, it may need more salt.Remove Parmesan rind and thyme stem, and serve with grated Parmesan.