Friday, November 26, 2010

Celery Root Soup with Kale and Farro

This soup was inspired by a recipe that used pearl barley, leeks, beef broth, light cream and milk, and spinach, none of which I had on hand. I made substitutions using what I did have and modified to accommodate the longer cooking kale instead of the quick wilting spinach and ended up with an incredibly delicious soup. A funny thing happened though, my husband and I were happily slurping the soup up and we both came up with notion that the soup cried out for clams... next time.

One note about about farro, which is an ancient type of wheat* - be sure to use one that has been milled a bit to remove some of the bran (pearled) because unmilled wheat berries take forever to cook and seemingly never become tender. Of course, if you have pearl barley in your pantry, use that.

Celery Root Soup with Kale and Farro

1/4 cup farro
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 celery root, about 2 pounds untrimmed, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup creme fraiche
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems and ribs removed, coarsely chopped
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Combine the farro, 1/2 teaspoon salt and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the farro tender but still has a little bite, about 45 minutes to an hour. Add the kale to the pan and continue to cook 10 or 15 minutes longer, until the kale is tender.

While the farro is cooking, melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery root and saute until the onion becomes translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the celery root is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Roughly puree half of the soup and return it to the saucepan. Add the cooked farro and kale along with the cooking water to the soup. Stir in the creme fraiche and simmer the soup until hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*There's lots of confusion about which ancient strain of wheat is used to make farro. Emmer, spelt, and einkorn are all candidates. Spelt seems to be the grain most often identified as THE farro, but other experts claim it's emmer. And other sources say that all three are made into farro. If you're curious, do a web search for farro and be prepared to be confused...


  1. I don't think I've ever seen farro before. This recipe sounds good!

  2. Sounds good! I have some celeriac in the garden that is about ready for harvest.. :-)

  3. This sounds like a wonderful soup, we don't have farro but do happen to have a whole bucket of barley that we need to start using. I am looking forward to trying this recipe.

  4. You have inspired me to think about Soup for dinner tonight. We are coming off of two days of Thanksgiving feast eating (the day and the leftovers) and soup sounds like a refreshing and light alternative for today! I don't have quite all the ingredients to make your exact variation - but I will just build off of your example and use what I do have to create something tasty too!

  5. Farro is a little hard to find, I usually buy it at an Italian specialty food store, but I just found a bag of it at Costco of all places.


    Dan, Does your celeriac mind your cold weather? Mine just sailed through our recent freezing nighttime temperatures.


    Daphne, it is yum!


    Mr. H., Did you grow your own barley?


    kitsapFG, I just made a big pot of turkey stock and I think I might try this soup again with that. I smoked my bird on the BBQ and my stock has some of that flavor which I think will be great in the soup along with some chopped leftover turkey...

  6. We grew emmer this year and I just popped some in a kettle on the stove for a midnight snack... yummy! After we grew it I had to figure out how to lable it, and this is what I learned: Einkorn is farro picolo, emmer farro medio and spelt farro grande- so little, medium or big it can all be farro depending on what region of Italia you are in. Happy cooking!

  7. Yummmm~~~this soup sounds so good, I can eat soup everyday and not get tired of it.


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