Winter-Warming, Freezer-Friendly, Pantry-Cleaning Soup

By • January 14, 2013 • 23 Comments

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Author Notes: Adapted pretty extensively from Adapted from Zuppe by Mona Talbott. (Hers is made with cannellini or cranberry beans instead; it suggests but does not include the farro and barley.) Chickpea-cooking technique adapted from Melissa Clark. Nicholas Day

Serves 6-8

  • 1 pound chickpeas, dried
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bunch kale, preferably Tuscan
  • 3/4 cups pearl barley (or use a cup and a half and no farro)
  • 3/4 cups farro (or use a cup and a half and no barley)
  1. Soak the dried chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight or for at least six hours. Drain the plumped chickpeas and add them to a large pot along with about 10 cups water. Also add: the rosemary sprigs, the bay leaf, a crushed clove of garlic, 1/3 cup olive oil and a tablespoon of salt. If you have a parmesan rind, add that too. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for an hour or so, or until tender; add more water along the way if too much boils off. Do not drain, but remove the rind, the rosemary, the garlic, and the bay leaf.
  2. Meanwhile, warm two or three tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and then add the diced onions and carrots. Sweat until soft; season with salt. Then chop the remaining garlic and add it and the tomatoes. Cook for 5 or 10 more minutes and then add the mixture to the chickpea pot.
  3. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. (You can do this while the chickpeas are cooking.) Destem the kale and cut the stem into thin slices; put aside. Roughly chop the leaves. Add the stem to the boiling water; boil for 2 minutes. Then add the leaves and boil for another 3 minutes. Drain and then cool. Chop the kale again if you think the leaves look too large for a soup. Add the kale to the chickpea pot. Simmer the whole thing for about 10 minutes.
  4. Bring another pot of salted water to a boil. (You can do this while the chickpeas are cooking, too, or after you finish the kale.) Add the barley and farro (or just barley or just farro). Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Drain the grains but keep the barley/farro water.
  5. When the chickpea mixture has simmered for 10 minutes, add the farro/barley and simmer for another 5. If the soup looks too much like stew, thin it with your reserved barley/farro water. Season with salt. Serve with crushed chili flakes and/or parmesan.
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Comments (23) Questions (0)


6 months ago Evie Sorisio

In my experience, dried soaked beans cook faster without added salt. I add salt once they are tender.


7 months ago Naila

A good advice whenever cooking beans, vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli is to use 1/8 tea spoon of asafetida. You can purchase it at any Indian grocery store. I keep mine in two Ziploc bags, away from the kitchen as at first it has a strong smell. But it's the best thing to use for legumes, and vegetables. Use it while cooking, it never leaves any taste or smell behind, so not to worry.


7 months ago Horto

step 5 confuses me, am I alone? so many pots!
I am making this now, adding hot dogs!


9 months ago nola_t

This is hands-down one of my favorite soups to freeze and take to work. It has a great balance of protein, fiber and vegetables, so I can make it all the way to dinner without getting hangry. I've never bothered to cook the kale separately, though I suspect that the Italians would frown on this. The flavors may end up a bit "muddier" if you don't cook the kale separately, but I don't mind it in the least. I've also successfully substituted collard greens for the kale-they hold up equally well in the reheating process.

In making this several times, I've learned that you absolutely need to salt it heavily from the beginning and at every step of the way (salt the beans at the beginning, despite what you may have been told, slat your barley/farro water, salt the veggies as they saute, etc.) Because there's no stock t add some complexity, the salt is a really critical ingredient and adding it at the end won't achieve the same results. If you're worried about salt levels, subbing out chicken or veggie stock for some of the water may help. I also like to add some extra onions, garlic & tomatoes. I add some homemade chili oil to each bowl to taste, which helps to bring all the flavors together and adds an extra layer of depth. I've also added a generous spoonful of harissa at the table, which took the flavors in a whole different (but delicious!) direction.


10 months ago Lori

I also added the kale directly to the soup to cut down on clean-up. I added some red pepper flakes and a bit of tomato paste to make the flavor a little bolder. I also added some red wine vinegar at the end for a little acidity. I thought this was a great fall soup and I did put some single servings in the freezer and there was no difference in taste after freezing so I will definitely make this through the winter.


12 months ago queenofcashmere

I made this with vegetable broth instead of water and added a Parmesan rind, to boot. It was meh. I added more salt and then some more. If served a blow of this, Oliver Twist would never have asked for more. Very disappointing.


12 months ago MrsK

I have a problem when people so discourteously express themselves simply because they didn't like a recipe. I try to imagine how they'd react on a really stressing situation--scary! Very, very bad manners... ;-P


11 months ago 1cup

Why is it bad manners to say one doesn't like a recipe because it was bland? Is it bad manners not to like something or to say so publicly when it is in a public forum?


11 months ago MrsK

There are ways to say things politely.


12 months ago Souplady

I am trying this one very soon. Yum!


over 1 year ago MrsK

Oh, I so want to try this! Can't wait for winter to come back--not that the heat is really in, but, well, winter is a good excuse for this soup. I'll add some meat with bone to make it really filling. Thanks for the great recipe!


over 1 year ago denise&food

Made this yesterday and it is delicious. The only change I made was using spinach instead of kale and added it to the finished soup. Very hearty vegetarian soup. And extremely economical!


over 1 year ago catydid

To answer Miche's question, I put the chopped Kale directly into the simmering beans for a bit before adding the tomato/carrot/onion mixture. So no extra blanching step. Worked great. Fabulous soup, thanks!!!


over 1 year ago Alex R.

Nice dish, thanks for sharing. Barley & farro are very delicious additions. Found the process of making the soup a little cumbersome - would be nice to streamline it a bit (I did use the kale cooking liquid for grains at least). I used a pressure cooker on the beans, which was fast but meant that I didn't have all the cooking liquid I needed - ended up adding water in at the end. Still tasted pretty good though next time hope to figure out a better way.

Served with some Sriracha and a squeeze of lemon. Quite nice. Will add some sausage to the next bowl!


over 1 year ago Daria Faulkner

We ate most of it and froze the rest. Its very good! My husband normally likes having some sort of meat in his meal, but he enjoyed this one a lot!


over 1 year ago Lucytron

Do you freeze the fully assembled soup? If so, how does the reheat affect the texture of the kale/grains? If not, in what form should the soup be frozen?


over 1 year ago Nicholas Day

Just freeze the finished soup. It works!


over 1 year ago Pamela731

This sounds fantastic. I'm trying to find hearty-healthy recipes and soups are always a favorite to make. Thanks


over 1 year ago Miche

What's the reason for blanching the kale before adding to the pot of soup? I would think you'd lose some of the flavor. I understand re: the grains that it's to control the thickness of the soup, but I'd probably just throw 'em into the pot too.


over 1 year ago Nicholas Day

I admit to shamelessly following Mona Talbott's directions here. But I assume throwing the kale in directly would be a-okay.


11 months ago Andreas

Kale takes extremely well to long, slow cooking. I too am surprised by the extra blanching step.


over 1 year ago Stormin9

This needs some ham, sausage or chicken.


over 1 year ago Mimust

Fantastic, full flavor, hearty soup. Perfect for this week's below zero forecast. I used my immersion blender on about 1/4 of the chickpeas to give the broth a little more body, and was pleased with the result.