With the exception of that incredibly hard freezing snap that wreaked havoc on farms throughout Oregon, Portland’s winter has managed to cast itself as both mild and one of the driest in recorded history. Though I can’t complain too much about the fifty degree days (who wants to be the person verbally raining on someone’s weather-induced happiness by commenting that this drought doesn’t bode well for summer water levels?), I often had mixed feelings when I looked down at my feet on a late January day and realized that I wasn’t wearing socks… and didn’t need to.
Of course, I wouldn’t trade my flats and spring coat for the frigid, whipping winds and blizzards that I’d be enmeshed in if I still lived back East, but weather differences aside, seasonal eating in February looks and tastes the same whether I’m cooking in Portland or Brooklyn. I’m still roasting root vegetables and tubers, incorporating kale into nearly every meal, and soaking a lot of beans.
Admittedly, it seems strange to prepare foods meant for brisker weather when camellia blossoms are blooming outside, but I managed to find a soup that makes itself a welcome presence no matter the weather. This soup takes a few common CSA or market ingredients, notably cabbage and carrots, adds several pantry staples, and cooks them into a hearty, silky, and immensely flavorful concoction. The rosemary sprigs elevate those basic vegetables into aromatic ladlefuls, and the long simmering time allows the cabbage to disintegrate into softer strands.
I’ve now made this cabbage and farro stew for lunch three times, never needing more than a hunk of bread to round out my meal. As I write this, Portland’s weather is finally in line with the calendar month: today’s windchill is 5 degrees with blustery snow swirling on the roads, a weather pattern perfect for a hearty soup that can capture some vestige of warmth not just in your kitchen, but for your body too.
Farro, Bean, & Cabbage Soup
Recipe Source: Vegetable Literacy
Serves: 4 to 6
- 3/4 cup farro
- 1 cup dried cannellini beans
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons of minced rosemary
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 carrot, diced (1/4 inch)
- 1 1/2 cups homemade tomato sauce or 1 can (15 ounce) crushed tomatoes
- 8 cups chopped cabbage (Savoy is preferable, but green will work too, as you can see)
- Soak the farro and beans in separate bowls for at least 6 hours. Overnight is fine too.
- Pour the water off the beans and put the beans into a dutch oven style pot. Add 5 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and simmer for up to an hour, until the beans are tender.
- Scoop out 1/2 cup of the beans and set aside. Drain the rest of the beans through a colander with a bowl tucked under the colander to save the water. Puree these beans in a food processor until smooth, adding as much cooking water as necessary to gain a creamy consistency. Add this puree into the bowl with the reserved beans.
- Measure the reserved cooking liquid to total 3 cups; add water if necessary to achieve this. Drain the farro.
- Heat the oil in the dutch oven/soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, rosemary, celery, and carrot. Cook, stirring every now and then, for 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cabbage, 1 teaspoon of slat, and cook until the cabbage is wilted. Add the pureed beans, the whole beans, the farro, and the 3 cups of liquid (eyeball this – you may need closer to 4 cups). Cover partially and simmer until the farro is cooked, around 1 hour.
- Taste for seasoning before ladling into bowls. Enjoy!