Saturday, September 8, 2012

The latest culinary adventure...

The adventure begins!
I’d like to share my latest culinary adventure…cooking farro soup! I had never heard of farro until a recipe for farro soup appeared in a recent cooking magazine. Apparently farro is high in fiber and protein, and the description of its nutty flavor intrigued me. It is a grain that looks like brown, large rice but cooks more like pasta.

Anyway, last week it was unaccountably cloudy for two days, and even rained, and so I jumped on the chance to pretend it was fall in Southern California and cook up some soup. I had bought farro at the local grocery store, and decided to put it to yummy use! It wasn’t particularly cheap, but it was delicious, as I will describe in the post.

I started by cooking up the farro. The recipe said to salt the farro, just like pasta. It cooked for about fifteen minutes or so, and unlike rice, but again like pasta, did not absorb all the water. The recipe actually said to drain the water and save it to put in the soup later, which I did. I can only assume it was full of nutty goodness that cooked out of the farro, because otherwise the idea of saving the cooking water seems kind of gross. But I am getting ahead of myself.

In a stock pot, I put two peeled garlic cloves in a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil. I have never cooked garlic like this, and I must admit it threw me off a little to not chop up the garlic. I had to keep checking the recipe to make sure I was doing it right. I was supposed to cook the garlic in the oil without letting it brown, and press it at times to extract the garlic flavor.

Cooking garlic in a novel way...
I had to set aside my inclination to cook everything on high heat, or I probably would have ended up with some oil burns, and cook the garlic on medium low heat. It smelled amazing! The smell of extra virgin olive oil and garlic and onions cooking is one of my favorite scents ever. For some reason, it reminds me of the yummy smells in my nana’s kitchen that I smelled as a child. I think about you every time I cook garlic and onions, Nana!

After cooking the garlic for a few minutes, I added chopped carrots and onions. The recipe called for two carrots, but I only had baby carrots, so I made up two carrots out of the baby carrots.

Two carrots!
That’s equivalent to two carrots, right? I also had to take the opportunity to pretend that everything matches in my kitchen and take an orange picture! In reality, I pretty much have all colors of the rainbow in my kitchen.

The carrots and onions cooked with the oil and garlic for several minutes, and I tried to mash up the garlic some more. Then it was time for another superfood ingredient…kale! Kale is one of the vegetables that Aaron will actually eat and enjoy, so I jumped on the chance to use it in a recipe. I think this is actually the first time I have cooked it in our marriage, although I have fond memories of eating kale even as a child. The recipe called for something like a bunch of kale, and of course I had bought a bag of kale, and did not know how much was equivalent to a bunch, so I simply chopped up a large amount of kale and put it in the stock pot. I covered it with a quarter cup of water and the lid, and then let the vegetable mix cook for about ten minutes or so. After that it was time to add a can of cannellini beans and a can of tomatoes. I chose fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles from Trader Joe’s. Fire roasted equals delicious in my cooking knowledge! Then it was time to let the mix cook for another ten minutes. I entered the point in the recipe where I felt like every time I added a new ingredient, I had to let the mixture cook for another ten minutes! Luckily I had just received a new cooking magazine in the mail, so I was happily occupied for those increments of ten minutes. 

The final product, drained and ready to go!
I added the farro, finally, and the leftover farro water to the soup after the ten minutes. I also added crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper, but those were the only spices that I used in the soup, which was also a change from usually using several spices in a meal. Next, of course, I let it cook for another ten minutes.

The recipe recommended drizzling more olive oil over the soup when serving, and I found that this was an excellent suggestion. The soup was delicious! 

Yummy rainy day dinner!
It was very earthy and hearty, and farro is surprisingly delicious. It was fun to experiment with an ingredient that I had never heard of a few weeks prior to making this dinner. It was also fun that the soup was such a success! Aaron enjoyed it as well, and we enjoyed it for a few lunches at work for the next few days. Besides the time spent stewing the soup mixture for several instances of ten minutes, it did not take too long to make the soup. Also, most of the ingredients were relatively inexpensive, besides the farro itself. I think it felt so expensive to me because I used the entire bag of farro in one recipe. It measured out to about a cup and a half of farro, and of course it expanded in the cooking process, but still, it probably won’t be an ingredient I use every day. Overall, it was an enjoyable and delicious cooking adventure.

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