Toasted Spelt Soup with Escarole and White Beans

It's late Friday afternoon and a cold front is moving in. The wind is coming from the West as it blows the neighbor's leaves round and round. Even the wind chimes in the backyard are ringing harmoniously. I head out to the kitchen, reach down for my large cast iron pot; it's time for soup.

Today's recipe is slightly adapted from the January issue of  "Bon Appetit", magazine. It is noted that this dish is inspired by the classic Italian pasta and bean stew, pasta e fagiole. The ingredient list actually calls out for 1 cup spelt. I am substituting semi-pearled farro as this grain is also recommended along with wheat berries to try. The grains are toasted about 3 minutes until they turn a darker color. This process really intensifies their flavor. This soup begins with all the essentials and ends with a thin shaving of Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.


1 medium onion, (coarsely chopped)
1 small fennel bulb, (cored, coarsely chopped)
1 carrot, (coarsely chopped)
1 celery stalk, (coarsely chopped)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
2 ounces Pancetta, (cut into 1/4" pieces)
1 cup spelt (I used farro)
2 cloves garlic, (chopped)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste (used 4 diced roma tomatoes)
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 head escarole, (leaves torn in bite sized pieces)
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed
Shaved Parmesan (for serving)

To prepare:

Pulse onion in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with fennel, carrot, and celery, placing vegetables in bowl with onion.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot. Add Pancetta and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add spelt and cook stirring often, until grains are a couple of shades darker, about 3 minutes.

Add onion, fennel, carrot, celery, and garlic to pot; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes, and cook until paste is slightly darkened about 1 minute.

Add broth to pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until spelt is tender 60 to 70 minutes. Stir in escarole and beans cook cook until greens are wilted, about 4 minutes.

Serve soup drizzled with oil and shaved Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!


  1. This looks wonderful! I also love whole grains, legumes, beans...I made a wheat berry salad today with some edamame, roasted sweet potatoes, and avocado. I would love to try this soup - looks so hearty and healthy!

  2. Looks so wholesome ...and tasty! Especially with the addition of the pancetta ... yum!

  3. I have never seen spelt in any form other than flour, and we don't get farro here - but I will look out for it in Europe as this sounds so tasty :)

  4. I have only seen spelt in flour form, and we don't get farro here but I will look out for it in Europe as this soup sounds so tasty :)

  5. I bookmarked this from BA! Hope to make it soon. Sounds like such a hearty delicious bowl!

  6. This sounds so delicious! It's cold and snowy here today so this would be an excellent lunch or dinner. I like how you finish the soup with a drizzle of olive oil and parmesan cheese.

  7. This sounds so warm and hearty - perfect for these oh-so-cold days!


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