Although I adore anything with pumpkin and apples, my favorite fall foods are definitely soups and stews. Soups have long been my favorite thing to cook because they are so adaptable, easy to make, and are generally fairly healthy, too. Don’t get me wrong, I could eat soup year-round (and often, I do, since the university likes to keep our offices at like 57 degrees) but I don’t make it until the weather starts to get a little cooler.
This soup was actually meant to be a chicken barley soup. I threw it together because I had some carrots and celery leftover from making Italian wedding soup and chicken and dumplings the week prior. But, I realized after I’d already started making it that I didn’t have any barley. Thankfully, I did have (just enough) farro, which worked perfectly. Farro has a very similar texture and taste to barley, but takes just a little less time to cook.
The base of this soup is very similar to chicken noodle, but the mushrooms and farro add a great earthiness. The farro and chicken also make this soup pretty filling, which makes me especially happy since it’s a fairly low calorie soup.
Chicken and Farro Soup
1 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 small bunch (about 3-4 short sprigs) thyme
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 – 1.25 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1 cup farro, rinsed
Heat butter in a Dutch oven, and then add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until onion starts becoming translucent, but vegetables are still slightly crisp, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic, mushrooms, and thyme, and cook until the mushrooms start giving up juices. Continue cooking until most of the liquid from the mushrooms has been evaporated.
Push the vegetable mixture to the side and add the olive oil to the other side of the pot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and then add to the oil, cooking until browned on each side, but not cooked through.
Add the broth, bay leaf, and marjoram and bring to a boil. Stir in the farro. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Fish out the thyme stems (the herbs should have fallen off the stems.)