I don’t stop making soup once the weather warms up; I still need my bowls of goodness once every week or two for dinner (on the deck now with a chilly-willy white wine, growing greens, and candles) and for effortless, healthful lunches. I love best sous and hub Dave to roast a whole chicken on the grill and make a stunning salad as much as the next woman and I’m forever your person for homemade soft serve coffee ice cream or pistachio gelato, too. But woman can’t live on grilled meat and ice cream and that’s where it’s handy to have a vegetable-heavy whole meal chicken or other soup in your back pocket. And I like to invent things — Steven Raichlen –my favorite grill guy after Dave– would surely disagree with me, but grilling gets a little same old, same old. Soup is ever-changing. It might be unfair, but it’s how it is for me.
Lately I’ve made a few different chicken-vegetable soups but this one might be one of the quickest and perhaps the most wholesome or healthy as it includes farro, a popular and full-of-nutrition whole grain. I saw the small bag of Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro ($1.79) and knew I had to do something yummy with it quickly. Instead of the typical 20-40 minute time frame for pearl or whole farro, this is a perfect 10-minute slam dunk. Oh…and the food processor makes fast work of the soup cook’s never-ending chopping chores. If you haven’t one in your kitchen arsenal, you can hand chop everything and build those arm muscles instead; the farro is still done in just a few!
A dozen reasons to cook soup all year long to be healthy, wealthy, and wise:
- Soup is easy and forgiving. If it cooks a little too long, it’s not ruined.
- Soup is versatile. If you don’t have one ingredient, you can often sub another.
- Soup is healthy. “Eat your vegetables,” your mom said. Soup’s full of them.
- Soup is inexpensive. Instead of a big piece of salmon for each person, for example, you only need a little to make a potful. We need some meals that don’t cost much.
- Soup is leftover-friendly. Yes, you can use leftovers in soup, naturally, but soup itself is delicious leftover. Might even be better the next day. It keeps well/freezes.
- Soup is a fridge cleaner-outer. Sad sack beans? Yellowing greens? Spotted tomatoes?Sort, trim, toss ’em in. Waste not; want not–right?
- Soup is good for digestion. More liquid and often more fiber. Less fat. See?
- Soup is a happy lunch. It travels well to work and heats fast in the microwave. Keeps you from grabbing fast food and wasting cash.
- Soup is slimming. See above: Soup is good for digestion, soup is healthy, soup is a happy lunch. A bowl of soup instead of calzone and fries. Hm.
- Soup is culture in a pot. All cultures make soup. 10 Most Popular German Soups
- Soup is special diet-friendly. Need gluten-free? Vegan? No problema.
- Soup is good for sleep. What?! Sure: Eat light; sleep tight, as Alyce says. You know how you feel when you go to bed on a big, full tummy? That doesn’t happen with soup.
Too warm for soup where you are? Cook in the morning or use the slow cooker. Or make cold soup. Of course, cold soup is hot first.
And if those aren’t enough reasons, soup will also teach you how to use your food processor when you try this: (TIP: Leave it on the counter so you’ll use it more often.)
Quick Chicken-Vegetable Soup with Farro
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs—trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 EACH: chopped: medium yellow onion, medium carrot, celery stalk, handful fresh parsley (plus extra for garnish), cup of cabbage
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon each: dried dill, dried thyme, dried basil, and dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 quart EACH: low-sodium chicken broth and water (plus more as needed to keep soup brothy)
- 15- ounce can chopped tomatoes
- 1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
- ½ cup (10-minute) farro–see head note
- 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into small dice
- Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for garnish
- HEAT THE OIL over medium-high heat in an 8 or 10-quart soup pot. Add crushed red pepper and chicken. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. Sauté, stirring, for five minutes or until chicken begins to brown.
- ADD THE VEGETABLES, garlic, and dried herbs. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Pour in the broth, water, and tomatoes. Stir. Add another teaspoon of kosher salt and another ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover.
- STIR IN POTATO, FARRO AND ZUCCHINI* Lower heat and simmer uncovered until everything is tender, another 10-12 minutes. Add a little more broth or water if soup becomes thick before it's done; it should remain brothy. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- SERVE HOT garnished with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and minced fresh parsley. Store well-covered for 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.
CHANGE IT UP: No farro, 10-minute or otherwise? Use a small pasta like whole wheat macaroni or ditalini. White rice is another possibility; follow the directions for pearl farro. Brown rice could be used but would need to be cooked separately before adding to the soup along with the zucchini. Microwaved brown rice is a simple way to add a whole grain and would be much faster. Quick Barley is another thought, as is quinoa. Torn basil or minced chives might replace the parsley for garnish. Should you have cooked vegetables you’d like to use such as broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, or asparagus, add them only for the last few minutes of cooking to heat through. Need more greens in your life? Stir in chopped spinach or shredded kale for the last several minutes of cooking.
What is Farro: Nutrition, Benefits; How to Buy-How to Cook Farro/GH (NOTE: Farro is not gluten-free as it’s a type of wheat.)
If you liked this, you might also like my:
- Chicken-Vegetable Wild Rice Soup
- Tequila White Chicken Chili
- Late Summer Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Rice
- KIDS COOK: Easy Chicken and Black Bean Soup with Quesadillas
- Fast Chicken and Tortellini Soup with Parmesan and Basil
- Tuscan Chicken Stew (Revisited)
- Mozzarella French Toast Sandwiches…and Asparagus-Fennel Soup with Pistachio Pesto
LIFE GOES ON:
And so dinner on the deck starts… putting Joe Pass radio on Pandora (singing along if you know the lyrics since Joe’s a guitar player), sipping a chilly-willy white, and breathing in the breeze. In Colorado, there’s always a breeze. Sometimes, oftentimes, it’s more like windy, I’d say. Only two U.S. states have more wind than Colorado. We come in third after Wyoming and Idaho. Hmph. Lots of bad hair days around here.
Thanks for keeping me company in the kitchen; you’re special that way.