Beef, Farro and Vegetable Soup
This is a meal-in-one in a bowl with slow-cooked chuck beef cut into small, melt-in-your-mouth cubes, whole grain farro and lots of vegetables. Using a piece of chuck beef you cut yourself, not the precut "stew" meat which tends to be a mix of cuts, will give you the best tasting and most tender results.
1 (2½- to 3½-pound) piece of chuck roast, cut into (roughly) ¾-inch pieces, cutting around and discarding any solid fat
Salt and pepper
1½ tablespoons flour, for dredging
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup red wine
8 cups homemade or store-bought chicken or turkey stock or broth
4 cups water
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 large onion, diced
1 whole leek, trimmed, cut lengthwise, rinsed and sliced 1/4 -inch thick
4 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
²/³ cup farro*, rinsed
½ cup minced fresh parsley
1 cup green beans, diced small
Kernels from 2 ears fresh corn (approximately 1 cup)
. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper and dust lightly with the flour.
2. In a large soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat and brown half of the beef, using a spatula to turn the pieces to brown on several sides, about 5-6 minutes. Set aside the first batch and brown the second. (I often use a second skillet to brown half the beef to save time and to capture the additional flavor.)
3. Add the first batch of meat back into the pot, and add the wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up flavorful brown bits, and bring to a boil. Stir in the stock or broth, water, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Bring to a boil, skimming any impurities (foam) that rise to the top. (Continue to skim occasionally as soup cooks; it results in a clearer broth.)
4. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook at a bubbling simmer (not a boil) for 40 minutes. While the beef is cooking, you can cut and add (at any point) the leeks, carrots, celery and thyme.
5. After 40 minutes, add the tomato, farro, half of the parsley and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil again, reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Add the green beans and corn and continue cooking until the farro, which has a similar texture to barley, is cooked and the meat is very tender, another 10 to 15 minutes. (The soup typically cooks a total of approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to yield tender beef.)
6. Add the remainder of the parsley and season to taste with additional salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper.
*If farro is unavailable, substitute 1/2 cup barley and add when you add the carrots and celery and cook for a longer cooking time, 45-50 minutes, or until the barley is tender.