Farro & Borlotti Bean Soup

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Apples for Jam

Apples for Jam

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2010

  • About

This is a good soup to try on children in winter: rich in iron and vitamins. You will have to check the type of farro you have as to whether it requires soaking or not. It should be available in health food shops, if not at the supermarket. Pearl barley can be used instead, if you like.


  • 200 g(7 oz) dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight in cold water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 80 g( oz) unsmoked pancetta
  • 200 g(7 oz) farro (spelt) grain, soaked overnight in cold water
  • 125 ml(4 fl oz/½ cup) tomato passata (pureed tomatoes)
  • 2 sage leaves
  • olive oil, to serve


    Drain the beans, put them in a large saucepan and cover abundantly with cold water. Bring to the boil and then skim the surface. Lower the heat slightly and cook for 1–1½ hours, until the beans are soft but not mushy. Top up with a little hot water when necessary during the cooking time. Season with salt towards the end.

    Heat the olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onion over medium heat until softened and very lightly golden. Add the garlic, celery and pancetta and sauté for a few minutes more. Drain the farro and add to the pan with the tomato passata, sage leaves and salt to taste. Stir through well and then add 1.5 litres(52 fl oz/ 6 cups) of water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and cook uncovered for about an hour, or until the farro is soft. There should be enough liquid to be able to stir the farro loosely with a wooden spoon.

    Drain the beans, keeping the cooking water. Purée the beans with just enough of their water to keep the purée moist. Add to the farro pan and stir in about 250 ml(9 fl oz/1 cup) of the bean cooking water, or enough to make a thick soup. Cook for a couple of minutes for the flavours to mingle, adjust the seasoning and serve with a good drizzle of olive oil. Adults might like to stir some freshly chopped chilli into theirs.