Farro Beet Soup with Greek Yogurt, Pistachios & Orange Zest

Farro Beet Soup with Greek Yogurt, Pistachios & Orange Zest

I’m obsessed with this farro beet soup with Greek yogurt, pistachios and orange zest. Mr. Italicano is too. He even forgot that that he doesn’t like beets!

This post is sponsored by Poggio del Farro. I created the recipe, photos and video—which you can also find on their website along with many other delicious farro recipes. The writing and opinions are my own.

Really, all food can be great (or bad)—it just comes down to how you prepare the dish. Just take microwaved mushy asparagus vs. melt-in-your-mouth-shaved asparagus.  The first is seriously inedible (actually, flat out gross) the second I can down in a second. I often top my frittata with shaved asparagus or serve it with delicious fresh fish.   You can also use these green veggie curls in place of fettuccine noodles like Lindsey Ostrom does on her blog, Pinch of Yum. Watch out world,  shaved asparagus is going to be the new avocado to your toast.

Now that we got my shaved asparagus obsession out of the way, let’s get back to this amazing farro beet soup. The idea for this recipe came from Maria Speck’s lovely Simple Ancient Grain Book. She makes a bright beet soup with buckwheat and spicy horseradish, while I created mine to incorporate the irresistible flavors of the Mediterranean: a dollop of creamy Greek yogurt, nutty farro from Tuscany and pistachios and orange zest that are symbols of Sicily.

Farro is a staple in my vegetarian/pescatarian lifestyle. It’s a grain that  is high in protein, fiber and antioxidants—you can read more about the nutritional benefits here — and I love it’s subtle nutty taste and firm texture. It’s so adaptable and can be transformed into a healthy salad, homemade pasta, easy crepes, and more.

I get my farro from Poggio del Farro, a family owned company in Tuscany. They are truly “farro specialists.” The passion that they put into their work to make their products made me fall in love with this grain. When I met the owner Federico for the first time I listened as he explained that this business adventure was an act of love for his family and keeping the tradition of cultivating farro alive (many fellow farmers were switching to grains that were easier to cultivate). I’ve been substituting farro for modern refined flours more and more as the reading I’ve done shows that it is a better choice for your health. And, although I don’t have problems with gluten, I like that farro has a different kind of gluten structure than modern grains. In fact, many people with gluten sensibilities (not celiacs disease) find that they can eat this grain without adverse effects. I want to limit health problems in the future by being attentive of what I’m eating today!

Farro Beet Soup with Greek Yogurt, Pistachios & Orange Zest
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This vibrant and healthy farro beet soup with Greek yogurt, pistachios and orange zest incorporates the irresistible flavors of the Mediterranean.
Serves: 4-6
  • For the beet soup:
  • 1 cup (200g) Dehusked Organic Farro
  • 3 cups (700ml) water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 16oz (450g) cooked beets
  • 2-3 cups cold vegetable broth
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • For the topping:
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
  • Orange zest
  1. Add the farro and water to a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil then add the salt and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
  2. In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the red onion and salt; cook until the onions are translucent, but not browned. Now add the garlic and honey and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.
  3. In a blender, add: the onion/garlic mixture, beets, 1 cup vegetable broth. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the contents of the blender into the medium sized pot and bring to a simmer.
  5. Now that the farro is ready, drain and add to the pot with the beet soup. Add more vegetable broth to arrive at a soup-like consistency. Bring to a simmer on medium heat until warm. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper--the salt really makes the flavor come out. Ladle into bowls. Top with a spoonful of Greek yogurt, chives, pistachios and orange zest. Buon appetito!

This post was sponsored by Poggio del Farro and their delicious farro grains!   I created the recipe, photos and video—which you can also find on their website along with many other delicious farro recipes. The writing and opinions are my own.

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Although Halloween isn’t very popular here in Italy, pumpkins have always been. In fact, they steal the show in the fall :: autunno.

creamy-pumpkin-soup-2You’ll find them in various shapes and sizes at the Italian farmer’s market and there are even festivals dedicated specifically to these beautiful knobby fruit :: frutta.

creamy-pumpkin-soup-3The most traditional dishes you’ll find in Emilia Romagna where Mr. Italicano and I live are (more…)

Calamari Stew

Calamari Stew

Calamari in umido (calamari stew) is a common recipe found throughout Italy.  A similar recipe is also common with octopus :: polipo, an ingredient loved and used often in Italian cuisine.

Calamari-Stew-2This calamari stew is a great recipe when you want a meal that warms you up. It’s a synch to make and is packed with aromatic Mediterranean flavors like onions, garlic, white wine :: vino bianco, tomatoes, Read More

Pea and Basil Soup with Herb Breadcrumbs

Pea and Basil Soup with Herb Breadcrumbs

Pea-and-Basil-Soup-with-Herb-BreadcrumbsMr. Italicano and I were recently in Sardegna, an island off the west coast of Italy. Sun. Beaches. Wine. Seafood. Relax. It was the first time in months where we actually unplugged from our busy schedules. It felt so good to take things slow :: piano, unwind and detach from the online world. Well…almost. I couldn’t help resist posting some photos of Sardegna, it’s just too beautiful not to share!

Sardegna, Italy

Sardegna, ItalyNow we’re back in Correggio, Emilia-Romagna and are melting in the humid heat. These hot days kill any ambition that I have to cook things on the stove, let alone bake. Thanks to the tormenting tiger mosquitos outside I’m not too big on grilling either. Therefore, I look for recipes that I can make quickly and that will yield a large batch so we can eat leftovers for a few days and I can stay out of the hot kitchen. My go-to summer meals are quinoa salads (constantly substituting in season vegetables) or soups that are delicious when eaten cold, like this delicious pea and basil soup. Depending on where you live, you still may be able to find fresh peas in the market or garden; otherwise, frozen :: surgelati peas work just dandy as well. (I usually buy a lot of fresh peas when they are in season and then store them in the freezer to use in the following months.)

Pea-and-Basil-Soup-with-Herb-BreadcrumbsEven though it’s hot and humid :: umido and I don’t have much desire to cook, I have been recipe testing like crazy for my upcoming cooking show events (July 9th, 16th and 23rd) that will take place at the new Smeg store in Milan! I’ve created a number of delicious new recipes based on different themes using Smeg’s new 50’s style kitchen line of small appliances (stand mixer, toaster, blender and kettle). You can check out more details about my July events here on this websiteI hope to see you there in person!

Pea-and-Basil-Soup-with-Herb-BreadcrumbsNote for all email subscribers: I haven’t disappeared! This week I realized that there was a technical problem with my recipes being delivered by email. I don’t want to fill your inboxes with the 12 recipes since then, so go directly to my blog if you are looking for more yummy recipes!

Pea and Basil Soup with Herb Breadcrumbs
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Raise your hand if you don't like to cook when it's hot. Okay, then this recipe is for you. A great soup to be eaten cold during these hot summer evenings.
Serves: 4-6
  • For the vegetable broth:
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 carrots, each cut in four
  • 3 celery stalks, each cut in four
  • ½ onion, cut in four
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • For the soup:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ white onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cups shelled fresh or frozen peas
  • 10 basil leaves
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 4 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 1 handful of fresh herbs (basil, parsley, chives etc.), finely chopped
  1. Bring the water to boil in a medium sized soup pot. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Boil for 10-45 minutes depending on how much of a hurry you are in. The more you let the broth boil, the more flavorful it will be, although I’ve also let it boil for just 10 minutes and it works just fine.
  2. In the meantime, heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet and add the onions. Cook over medium heat until they are soft, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the peas and one ladle of the broth that you are preparing.
  3. Toast the bread in a toaster and whiz the slices into breadcrumbs using a blender until coarsely ground. Put the breadcrumbs in a medium sized skillet, add a swirl of extra virgin olive oil and the fresh herbs. Toast for 3-4 minutes until golden and slightly crunchy.
  4. Filter the broth with a fine mesh strainer and return the liquid to the soup pot. Pour in the pea and onion mixture and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool, then whiz in a blender. This soup is fantastic cold or reheated. Serve with a swirl of extra virgin olive oil and the herb breadcrumbs.



Creamy Cauliflower Soup 

Creamy Cauliflower Soup 

Creamy Cauliflower SoupI made this creamy cauliflower soup :: vellutata di cavolfiore on a rainy cold day when a few of my Italian girlfriends came over for dinner. I think I’ve been away from Seattle too long as I am no longer acclimated to the incessant days of rain, where even in the most dreadful weather I would have still gotten dressed up in heels and headed out for a night on the town.  Or, maybe I’m just getting old? The thought of heels, rain, traffic and parking is just too much effort.  I would rather swap any such evening for the comfort of my home passed with good friends where a little jazz plays through the speakers, good food is on the table and my wine glass is full.

Creamy Cauliflower SoupThis creamy cauliflower soup has a delicate flavor, which was perfect for my friend Cecilia’s four year old daughter and one year old twins who went back for seconds. For adult taste buds, this soup is perfect paired with something bold like garlic and parmesan bread or a swiss chard :: bietole, fontina, avocado and whipped lentil grilled sandwich.

Creamy Cauliflower SoupSince autumn :: l’autunno and winter :: l’inverno seem to last for ever, you’ll have plenty of time to experiment with more than one cauliflower soup. Here are some interesting versions of cauliflower soup by other food bloggers around the web:

Tasse D’Amour: The addition of cashews is interesting and probably gives the soup a delightful creaminess. I also like the chopped kale, roasted almonds and pumpkin seed topping that adds in nutrition and crunch to the creamy soup.

Kitchen Sanctuary:  This is the recipe that my soup was adapted from. I think it is a great basic recipe on its own or for more curious cooks, a great starter recipe to build off of. I italianized my version by using Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in place of cheddar and added potatoes to give it more depth in texture.

All Spice and Nutmeg: This recipe has white beans in place of cream to get the silky consistency. What a great idea to cut down on calories. I will definitely keep white beans  in mind for my next soup.

Creamy Cauliflower SoupRight now it’s another cold, rainy :: piovoso and foggy day in Italy. If it weren’t for the cobblestone streets and bright colored houses surrounding me, I would think I was in Seattle. Maybe it’s mother nature trying to toughen me up so I get used to putting on those heels again and going out despite the bad weather; or maybe, it’s her way of telling me to make some warm soup and enjoy the coziness of home. I think I’ll choose the latter. And, you?

Creamy Cauliflower Soup 
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This creamy cauliflower soup is the perfect comfort food on cold and rainy autumn and winter evenings. 
Serves: 6-8
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ large white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cauliflower heads (about 1lb 10 ounces (760g) each), stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable broth 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (65g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) heavy cream (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried parsley or a handful of fresh parsley (optional)
  • Salt and freshly grated black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large pot, sautè the onion and garlic over medium-low heat in the extra virgin olive oil, until translucent but not brown; 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the cauliflower, potatoes, vegetable broth and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cauliflower and potatoes can be pierced with a fork; about 10-15 minutes. 
  3. In a blender or with a handheld immersion mixer, purée the vegetables until smooth. Return to the pot, add the cream, Parmesan cheese and stir over high heat until the soup just begins to boil. Taste and adjust with salt and freshly grated black pepper. 
  4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley, a dollop of Greek yogurt or drizzle of cream and chopped chives. 
  5. Adapted from Kitchen Sanctuary
Broccoli, Potato and Turnip Soup

Broccoli, Potato and Turnip Soup

Broccoli-Potato-Turnip-Soup-3I am on a soup-making craze. If you’re like me, there is nothing more satisfying than a warm soup for lunch or dinner during the fall. Last week I posted recipes for carrot soup, spiced pumpkin soup and you’ll also find roasted tomato and basil soup and mushroom and broccoli rabe soup on my blog. Today I am bringing you a new one that Mr. Italicano absolutely loved: broccoli, potato and turnip soup.

Broccoli,-Potato-and-Turnip-SoupOf course you can use the common green broccoli when you make this soup, but if you can find romanesco broccoli you are on your way to eating like a true Italian.  The markets in the Italian cobblestoned historic squares are filled with romanesco broccoli this time of year, and it is the first thing that stands out when I am shopping for produce. The bright green spiral buds that form the head seem more like a psychedelic piece of art or Madonna’s pointy bra from the 80’s than an actual edible vegetable. Though, however strange it may look, the romanesco broccoli is absolutely delicious.

romanesco-broccoliThe romanesco broccoli is technically an edible flower and is from the same family as the broccoli and cauliflower. Mr. Italicano and I love to eat it raw, roasted with some cheese sprinkled on top or in soups.  The flavor is much earthier and nuttier than a typical broccoli and adds depth and richness to the dish.

TurnipsWhen making this soup, whatever you do, don’t throw away the turnip leaves—you can use these greens to make a delicious side dish like they do in the Southern U.S. states. Many recipes call for salt pork or bacon, but you can easily keep this side dish vegetarian by sautéing garlic and shallots in a little extra virgin olive oil then adding the turnip greens, white wine, salt and pepper—and, if you want an extra kick of flavor, some dried red pepper flakes.



Have you ever tried romanesco broccoli? And, if so, what do you think about this vegetable?

Broccoli, Potato and Turnip Soup
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This delicious broccoli, potato and turnip soup is packed with rich autumn flavors and lots of nutrients.
Serves: 6-8
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 small shallots, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 turnips, leaves removed, well washed and chopped
  • 1 broccoli, chopped (I used a romanesco broccoli)
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cups (1.4L) vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Generous amounts of cracked pepper
  • ½ cup (100ml) heavy cream
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 Parmesan crusts, cut in small cubes (optional)
  1. In a large pot, sauté the shallots and garlic in the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat, until translucent but not brown; 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the turnips, broccoli and potatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the broth, bay leaves, thyme, nutmeg, cumin, salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables can be pierced with a fork; about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove the bay leaves. In a blender or with a handheld immersion mixer, purée the vegetable mixture until smooth. Return to the pot, add the cream and Parmesan cheese and stir over high heat until the soup just begins to boil.
  4. Ladle into bowls and topped with a few cubes of Parmesan crusts, grated Parmesan or chopped chives, if desired.