This is similar to an Italian vegetable soup, only better (and easier) with added nutrients from the kale and a quick-cooking, delicious Italian grain called farro. A type of wheat imported from Italy, farro offers a mildly chewy, nutty flavor. To create a vegetarian version, add water instead of stock, plus 2 Parmesan rinds (removed before serving).

Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 whole leek, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 large carrots (about 2 cups), sliced into half moons
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup farro*
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 bunch (about 3 cups lightly packed) kale, stems removed, chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with the juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated, to taste

1. In a soup pot, heat oil and sauté onion over medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add leek and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another 1 to 2 minutes. Add stock, carrots, celery, thyme, farro, and 1 teaspoon salt, then bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer soup, partially covered, for 15 minutes.

2. Stir in chopped kale and tomatoes. Bring to a boil again, turn to low, and simmer a final 15 to 20 minutes, until farro and kale are tender. Taste soup and add additional salt, if needed, plus a few grinds of pepper. Top each bowl with grated cheese for more depth of flavor.

Note: Farro can be found in the dried pasta or grain section of the supermarket. If farro is unavailable, use barley instead. Use 1/3 of a cup of barley and increase the initial cooking time in the first step to 30 minutes, for a total of about 50 minutes.

This recipe was originally published with the story, Soup: The Ultimate Comfort Food.