Italy's autumn warmers

How to make Umbrian farro and lentil soup

How to make Umbrian farro and lentil soup
This light, healthy and nutritious soup is almost a meal in itself and is perfect fodder as the temperature drops and the days start drawing in.

The recipe uses farro, an ancient family of grains encompassing spelt, emmer and einkorn. It originates from southeast Umbria, where sprouting fields of wheat and lentils transform the Piano Grande into a sea of colour each summer.

The sprouting fields of lentils of the Piano Grande. Photo: clry2/Flickr

Ingredients (serves four)

One large onion, sliced thinly
Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
One or two teaspoons of grated fresh ginger
One cup/250 grams of small brown whole lentils
One cup/250 grams of farro
Parsley, finely chopped
Four cups/1 litre of vegetable or chicken stock
One large garlic clove, halved lengthwise
Four slices of toasted Italian crusty bread
Grated Parmesan to taste


1) In a heavy saucepan, soften the onion slices in the olive oil over a moderate heat, stirring occasionally until they are a pale golden colour.

2) Next, add the ginger and stir for one minute.

3) Add the lentils and farro, along with the stock. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the soup is thickened and lentils are soft but still retain their shape.

4) Season the soup with salt and pepper only when cooked.

5) Toast the bread slices and rub them generously with fresh garlic and cut them into small cubes.

6) Ladle the soup into soup bowls, then add the chopped parsley, bread cubes, a teaspoon of good extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

Serve immediately.


Some types of farro will need to be soaked overnight – check before you begin that you have 'pearled' farro, and not unpearled of semi-pearled which will require soaking.

If you are after a more typically Mediterranean flavour you can substitute the ginger for a sprig of rosemary or, a handful of sage leaves.

The soup can be frozen, before the toasted bread cubes are added and should be defrosted in a pan containing a very small about of water over a low heat.

This recipe was courtesy of Letizia Mattiacci, author of A Kitchen With A View.

She lives in the Umbrian mountains and runs the cooking school, Alla Madonna del Piatto. For more recipes visit her website 

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