Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Diner’s Journal, New York Times, 12/18/08

• 1 cup farro, soaked overnight
• 1 cup dry white beans, soaked overnight
• 2 tablespoons good olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2 celery stalks, chopped–and some of the leaves
• 2 carrots, cleaned and chopped
• Salt and pepper
• 2 or 3 cloves chopped garlic
• 2 cups chopped tomatoes, canned, fresh, or frozen
• A quart and a half of stock or water, more as necessary
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil if available, or a blob of pesto
• Freshly grated Parmesan

Put a generous glug of good olive oil in a soup pot. Turn the heat to medium, and when the surface ripples add chopped onion, celery and carrots. Stir and cook for about ten minutes until the vegetables are softened and the onions are starting to look transparent. Add garlic and some salt and pepper; stir. Dump in the tomatoes and stock. Then add the pre-soaked farro* and beans.

Stir and turn up the heat. When everything starts to bubble, turn the heat way down so the soup simmers slowly for an hour or more until the beans and farro are cooked. Add water or broth as needed. (My family would appreciate a few slices of Salumi salami diced up and tossed in, utterly destroying any authenticity, of course, but adding a hearty and happy flavor.)

Stir in parsley and basil if you have it or pesto, check for salt, and ladle into wide bowls. Serve with a generous handful of grated Parmesan cheese. Fresh crusty bread and good butter finish this winter supper.

Note: I’d be likely to cook the beans and farro separately ahead of time to make the soup happen faster when supper time approaches; in fact, I like to keep cooked beans and grains on hand for quickly assembled soups.