This is a hearty, delicious stew that also happens to be really healthy. Swirling a spoonful of pesto in after it’s cooked adds a bright layer of flavor that perks up all the others.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- ¾ cup farro (or substitute barley)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 10 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 4 to 5 cups shredded, cooked Smart Chicken (from 1 whole chicken)
- Parmesan cheese rind*
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 1 ounce shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Pesto (prepared or homemade), for serving (optional)
- *Parmesan cheese rind is the outer portion of the wheel; in Italian cooking, where nothing is thrown out, the rind is used to impart Parmesan flavor into soups and stews. You will have the rind leftover once you’ve grated all you can from a chunk of authentic Parmesan.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until sizzling hot. Add the onion and farro and season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir until the onion is soft and translucent and the farro lightly toasted, about 5 minutes.
Add the squash, carrots, and celery, and cook and stir 5 minutes longer. Add the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes, and cook and stir 1 minute more.
Add the broth, chicken, and rind, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro and squash are tender, about 40 minutes.
Add the kale and cook and stir just until the kale is wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve warm, with a swirl of pesto (or a drizzle of olive oil), and a few shards of shaved Parmesan on each serving, and thick slices of rustic bread for dipping.
Note: Variations of this soup can be made based on what’s in season or what you have on had. In the summer, use fresh tomatoes instead of butternut squash, or add navy or cannelloni beans. You can also add fennel, cabbage, or bok Choy.