Variations on Hugh’s Beef and Farro Soup

Sheila and Rick on Vacation

Rick and Sheila enjoying winter!

Mayor De Blasio of NYC has been hyping the “Blizzard of 2015″ aka ” winter storm Juno,” which – if true – would be the first thing he has gotten right since he assumed office over a year ago.   Personally, I am always interested in how many snowplows the labor unions in NYC can mobilize for a winter storm or how many tons of salt will be spread on New York streets to make sure  auto commuters (and to a lesser extent: pedestrians) are not inconvenienced.    I don’t mean to trivialize the seriousness of a winter storm, but I am terribly disappointed that the YMCA will be closed tomorrow so I won’t be able to enjoy my daily sauna.   (Editor’s Note:  As the picture to the left suggests, the “California Dreamers” still believe they are on vacation.)

In any event, Sheila and I braved the crowds by elbowing our way through Whole Foods to stock up for a particularly bitter winter storm.  We opted for Hugh Acheson’s “Beef and Farro Soup” which was recently featured in  Food and Wine.   While this is more of a stew than a soup, Sheila decided to make several modifications to give the stew (sic soup) more flavor.  Personally, I am glad that she did.

Variations on Hugh’s Beef and Farro Soup

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces  (Editor’s Note:  Sheila recommends a mixture of 50% boned short ribs and 50% chuck for more taste.  Chuck is too dry!)
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 9 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1 head of garlic, pierced all over with a knife
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup farro
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 leek, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 3 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 small bunch Tuscan kale, chopped (3 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp of white miso
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika  (Editor’s Note:  Make this a Tablespoon, a teaspoon is useless!)
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish (Editor’s Note:  The photograph shows shaved parmesan – grated is better!)

Preparation

  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Season the meat with salt and pepper, add half to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, turning, until browned, about 5 minutes; using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large plate. Repeat with the remaining meat.
  2. Pour off all of the oil from the casserole. Add 1 cup of the stock and stir, scraping up any browned bits. Add the remaining 8 cups of stock along with the meat, garlic, thyme and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Stir in the farro and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over moderate heat until the farro is almost tender, 20 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, leek, celery, carrots, kale, miso and paprika. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the garlic and herb sprigs. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with cheese and serve.

Again, this is a hearty stew more than a soup.  Enjoy on a cold winter’s day.

Salmon and Farro Salad

Aware that I am into the World Cup in a big way, Gourmay readers across the world are asking me what we serve guests during the game. It used to be that we would serve some antipasti and, perhaps, a little pasta to whet the appetites of our guests. Sadly, after the biting incident in the Italy-Uruguay match, we have had to reconsider our menu because Luis Suarez gives new meaning to the term “al dente” when dining Italian.

Suarez_Cone.jpg

Mind you, I am a refined carnivore and prefer my meat cooked rather than still on the hoof, but I can understand why some people might be attracted to someone’s shoulder if they haven’t been weaned properly as a child. In any event, we have now decided that a trio of salads would be better to keep nationalistic passions in check. Found below is a useful salmon and farro salad courtesy of Mamacita:

Poached Salmon and Farro Salad

Ingredients (Serves 4 to 6)

  • 1 1/4 lb salmon
  • 4 tsp of red wine
  • 4 to 5 sprigs of dill
  • 1/2 cup barley or farro
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 Tbs capers, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs dill snipped
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil

Preparation

  • Poach salmon in water with 4 tsp of red wine and 4 to sprigs of dill.  Cool and flake.
  • Cook barley or farro and then toss with 2 tsp of olive oil and let cool.
  • Combine vegetables with salmon, grain and Dijon.  Season with wine vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

A penitent Luis Suarez tells me that the salmon salad is best eaten at room temperature.