My Favourite Tuscan Meal - Zuppa di Farro

April 24, 2011

One of the best meals I’ve ever eaten in my life was at the Ristorante Latini in San Gimignano, Italy. This little gem, located in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, uses only the finest quality ingredients to prepare a delicious array of Tuscan fare. The meals are cooked with simplicity and a lot of love and attention. The proof is all in the flavour.

An enchanting view of the San Gimignano countryside.
My favourite item on their menu is the Zuppa di Farro, a delicious spelt soup. This hearty soup is well loved in Tuscany, particularly in the Garfagnana region, in the mountains northwest of Lucca. The ingredients blend together so beautifully for a flavour that will have you coming back for more.

If you visit Ristorante Latini ask for Chiara, the daughter of founder Giovanni Latini.

Here is the recipe for you to try at home.  


To serve 4 you'll need:

•6-8 ounces (by weight) farro, in whole grains (more information on farro)
•3/4 pound ripe plum tomatoes (or canned tomatoes), chopped and seeded
•2-3 ounces pancetta (smoked if possible)
•Grated pecorino toscano cheese, or Parmigiano (romano will be too sharp)
•2 cloves garlic
•1 onion, finely sliced
•A small bunch parsley
•Some fresh basil
•A few sprigs thyme
•Olive oil
•Salt & pepper to taste
•1 quart hot broth (it can be made with bullion if need be)

Spelt is an ancient grain. The grandfather of wheat as we know it today.
Begin by preparing the farro: Wash it well, picking out impurities such as bits of chaff, pebbles, or bad grains, and soak it for at least 8 hours.

When it's ready, mince the pancetta and sauté it in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, together with the thyme, finely sliced onion, and garlic cloves. When the mixture has browned, remove and discard the garlic, and stir in the chopped tomatoes, parsley and basil. Cook for a few minutes, then stir in the hot broth, and once the pot comes to a boil, the farro. Cook over a low flame for about 2 hours, or until the farro is done (taste a grain), stirring often, and checking the seasoning towards the end. Let the soup sit for an hour and serve it warm, with olive oil and grated cheese.

(This is based on a recipe printed in Luciano Migliolli's Il Farro e le sue Ricette.)

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