March can be a tough month for cooking inspiration. Technically it’s the beginning of Spring, but in most parts of the country there’s still a very real chance of snow. We expect warmth and sunshine and bushels of delicate carrots, but the reality is more cold weather and comfort foods. This swiss chard soup is an attempt to strike a balance between the yearning for fresh vegetables and the need for something hearty and readily available. It’s savory, flavorful, filling and packed with healthy greens. I love topping it with a soft poached egg and serving it with a simple, bright and earthy Bourgogne Rouge.
notes on the swiss chard soup:
there are all different types of farro out there these days (3 varieties that could be either pearled, semi-pearled or unpearled), so depending on the type you have it may take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to fully cook. Refer to the cooking guidelines on the package to determine how long it needs to simmer in the broth before adding the potatoes.
farro has a tendency to soak up indefinite amounts of liquid, so I always thin the soup with extra chicken broth when reheating.
swiss chard and farro soup
serves 4- 6
1 bunch swiss chard, rinsed and patted dry
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1 cup farro (see note)
8 cups (2- 32 oz cartons) low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
a pinch of red pepper flakes
2 medium yukon potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2" cubes
parmigiano reggiano, for serving
Cut or tear swiss chard leaves away from thick stems. Stack leaves, 3- 4 at a time, tightly roll lengthwise into a long cigar, and slice into 1/2" ribbons. Set aside. Trim and discard tough ends from stems, then dice stems.
Heat oil in heavy large nonreactive pot over medium-high heat. Add swiss chard stems, onion, celery, a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and onions are translucent, 8- 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute.
Add farro, chicken broth, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, 15 minutes (see note— this may take more or less time depending on your specific type of farro). Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed. Add potatoes and simmer another 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
Add swiss chard leaves and simmer until just cooked and tender, 2- 3 minutes. Taste again to adjust seasoning and serve with grated Parmesan.