Farro soup – minestra di farro -is a traditional dish from Central Italy. The main ingredient, farro, is an ancient wheat already cultivated some11,000–10,000 years ago in the Western“arc” of the “Fertile Crescent”.
More precisely, farro is an Italian word including the grains of three ancient species of hulled wheat:
- Triticum monococcum
- Triticum dicoccum
- Triticum spelta
Triticum monococcum, is called in English einkorn wheat, in Italian farro piccolo and in French pétit épautre.
Triticum dicoccum in English is called emmer wheat, in Italian farro medio and in French moyen épautre;
Triticum spelta in English is called spelt, in Italian farro grande, and in French grand épautre.
In Central Italy, the most important and widespread type of farro is the emmer wheat, so much that it is often considered the spelt par excellence. It is the most adaptable species of farro to harsh conditions.
Recently, this ancient cereal has come back into use, given the search for alternative foods to common wheat for nutritional reasons and to preserve biodiversity.
This soup is traditionally made with split emmer, which is obtained from an initial fragmentation of the whole farro grain, keeping all its characteristics. When cooked, it becomes creamy, so it is very suitable for the preparation of traditional soups, pies, meatloaf, sweet and savory puddings.
For this recipe, this time we used Triticum monococcum cultivated in Haute Province, in the South of France. The result was just as delicious!
Ingredients for 4 persons
- 250 g of farro
- 60 g thickly sliced ham hock
- one large yellow-flesh potato
- one leek
- one onion
- one carrot
- a stalk of celery
- a bay leaf
- 150 g of tomato puree
- extra virgin olive oil
- grated sweet pecorino cheese or grated Roman pecorino cheese or grated Parmesan cheese
How to make it
After having cleaned and washed them, chop the celery, onion and carrot into a coarse mixture. Remove the first leek sheath, divide it in half vertically, leaving it attached to the base, then wash it under running water and slice it. Peel the potato, cut it into cubes and keep it waiting in the water.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the vegetables and the chopped ham (with its fat part). Season lightly with salt and cook over a low heat for about ten minutes. Add the tomato puree and the bay leaf and cook for another 10 minutes.
Pour about one and a half litres of hot water into the saucepan and, when it comes to the boil, add the potato and the broken spelt. Stir and taste to adjust the salt.
Leave it to cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, and at the end I complete the seasoning with a generous grinding of pepper.
Serve the soup piping hot accompanied by grated cheese (pecorino is the ideal choice).
This time, I cut the vegetables very roughly, I like them that way. But you can chop them according to your taste of course. Also, the traditional recipe requires the addition of ham (like Parma ham). didn’t add it.
More about farro
The origins of farro
Farro is among the eight crops considered as the domesticated founder crops:
- einkorn wheat Triticum monococcum
- emmer wheat Triticum dicoccum
- barley Hordeum vulgare
- lentil Lens culinaris – pulses
- pea Pisum sativum – pulses
- chickpea Cicer arietinum -pulses
- bitter vetch Vicia ervilia – pulses
- flax Linum usitatissimus
The most ancient species is Triticum monococcum o farro piccolo. According to the findings of archaeobotanical research, dating from the 10th to 9th millennium BC, the main center of origin is in the mountainous areas of present-day Turkey.
Triticum dicoccum o farro medio spread from the Mediterranean and Caucasus area.
The most recent species is Triticum spelta o farro grande. Its centre of origin lies further east, from the Caspian Sea to the territories of present-day Afghanistan and Kazakhstan.
Different environments have evolved into different types of farro, resulting in great variability and adaptability to the changing environmental conditions. Such biodiversity needs to be preserved, first by getting to know it.
- Atlante delle coltivazioni erbacee – Cereali. Farro – Triticum spp., Agraria.org
- Weiss, Ehud and Zohary, Daniel (October 2011), “The Neolithic Southwest Asian Founder Crops: Their Biology and Archaeobotany”, Current Anthropology, Vol 52, No. S4, pp. S239-S240. Downloaded from JSTOR