Saturday, April 6, 2013

Farro with Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

This was a mash-up of the last of my new favorite soup and finally, a successful attempt at cooking farro. I added a last minute poached egg to top it off. It was divine! 
It's been hit and miss with my few lame attempts at farro, a super healthy whole grain that looks like a cross between brown rice and barley. When cooked properly it has nice chewy texture and a slightly nutty flavor that makes it a hearty base for a main course.
I first came across it when I made this most excellent soup from Smitten Kitchen way back when and it wasn't easy to find back then. Now I get it in the bulk food section at Whole Foods or Rainbow. It's cooking time varies based on the type you buy: Pearled, semi-pearled or plain or I guess, unpearled. The pearling process breaks down the tough outer skin thus reducing the cooking time.
It's not inexpensive, so I've been hesitant to keep at it after having such underwhelming results. But since I've been cooking rice the Jamie Oliver way, I figured I give the farro another go.
Get a large pot of salted water boiling. I also start a full tea kettle to boil as well if I need to add more water later. Spread a cup or so of farro onto a baking sheet and pick out any impurites (if you've purchased the better bagged stuff this is probably not necessary), either way, the next step is to rinse it through a strainer.
When the water has come to a boil, add the farro and keep it at a boil  until it's almost tender (this could take 30-45 minutes so keep an eye on it and add more water if you have to). Then carefully pour the water and farro into a collander that will fit back into your original pot. Cover the farro with aluminum foil, pressing it down onto the surface. Pour about an inch of water (from the kettle) back into the pot and bring it to a boil. Put the collander back into the pot and place a lid on top. Reduce the heat until the water is simmering and then steam it until it's done. Check it every ten minutes and stop when the farro has reached a consistency you like. It took forever but it turned out brilliant. I wasn't planning on eating it that night anyway (I prepare rice and farro in large batches to re-heat for weekday office lunches and too-worn-out-to-cook dinners) so you can just let it go while doing something else. You can reduce the cooking time if you soak the farro overnight.
My current curry obsession led me to this next keeper: Coconut Curry Lentil Soup  from 101 Cookbooks.
Did I mention that this makes a super-tasty and satisfying breakfast with the addition of a fried or poached egg?

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