Soup, Singlehandedly

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I have good news: It is possible to cook with one hand.

It took me awhile to figure this out. For a few days after my injury I moped around, thinking about all of the things I wouldn’t be able to cook for weeks and weeks, like this and this.

Then I bucked up. In fact, the other day I managed to cobble together this rustic chickpea and mushroom soup. I CAREFULLY crushed the garlic cloves by putting them, one at a time, under the flat side of a knife blade and CAREFULLY pressing down with my palm (obviously using my good hand to press and being VERY CAREFUL—even so, as I describe it here it sounds rather reckless, doesn’t it?). I used pre-sliced mushroom caps, and a one-pound container of baby kale leaves I found at the supermarket (no slicing or chopping required). I limited the use of my left hand to occasional support duties as the right hand worked.

I’m happy to say that this soup was as good as any two-handed soup I’ve made. Plus, I didn’t have to do the dishes. My doctor, however, was not thrilled with with my initiative and reminded me that my left hand should be kept elevated at all times and not used to enable the right in any way. In other words, I got a little too ambitious too soon. So, back I go into hibernation for a little while longer. A presto…


Makes 4 main-course servings

Rustic Chickpea and Mushroom Soup with Farro

(Copyright 2012 Domenica Marchetti)


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 to 4 large cloves garlic, flattened with the blade of a knife
  • 3 large portobello mushroom caps, thickly sliced
  • 1 pound baby kale leaves or baby spinach leaves
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, plus their liquid (pull-tab can!)
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 (2-inch) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
  • 1 1/4 cups farro
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I got my daughter to do this)


Heat 1/4 cup oil and the garlic in a heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic until it is softened but don't let it brown. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat thoroughly with oil. Cook until they start to become tender, about 10 minutes. Add the baby kale by the handful. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the leaves are completely wilted and tender, 15 to 20 minutes (less if you're using baby spinach). Pour in the chickpeas and their liquid, and then 3 cups of broth and the parmesan rind. Stir, cover partially and bring to a gentle simmer.

While the soup is cooking, put the farro in a sauce pot along with 3 cups water and about 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook at a gentle simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the farro is tender but still pleasantly chewy. Pour the cooked farro (and any remaining cooking water) into the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook at a gentle simmer for a little while longer to thicken the soup and to give the flavors a chance to come together. For a looser soup, add a little more broth.

Ladle into rimmed soup plates and drizzle a little olive oil over each serving. Serve with grated cheese.

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11 Responses to Soup, Singlehandedly

  1. Gian Banchero February 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Since farro isn’t available at my local markets I’ve use hard winter wheat in its place, is this sorta OK??? Friends from Italy say the difference is somewhat minimal. True? Personally I think there is a noticeable difference. Thank you, take care.

    • Domenica February 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

      Gian, I haven’t tried that substitution. Are you referring to wheat berries? Either way I think the substitution should work, as long as you cook the wheat enough to make it tender. Although it might not be quite the same it should still be good. FYI you can find farro online at sources such as and Cheers, D

      • Gian Banchero February 8, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

        Thank you… Yes I meant winter wheat berries… I shall contact the companies you’ve recommended. –Grazie

  2. AdriBarr February 8, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    OK. So I see you did really do this. And about the garlic maneuver, oh dear. How did you manage the pull tab can? And the camera? I am doubtless as full of inquiries as your physician. While I am pleased to hear you were able to pull it off, I surely can believe your physician was none too pleased. But since you did make this soup, I will say it looks darn good. But please take it easy. We all want you back 100%. And soon.

    • Domenica February 8, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

      Yes, in retrospect it was kind of foolish (not the first time–obviously!). I’m back to taking it easy, which doesn’t suit me at all, I’m afraid. Grazie, cara.

  3. LiztheChef February 8, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Brave cook! I have been asking for a recipe to try my hand – no tease intended – at and this is it! Hope you continue to feel better each day!

    • Domenica February 8, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

      Thanks, my friend! Enjoy the soup.

  4. Elisa February 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    …and then there is the old saying…”where there is a will, there is a way”, but in your condition, there is no way…..yet. Take care of yourself. I will definetely make this wonderful soup!

    • Domenica February 9, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

      Thank you, Elisa

  5. Jamie February 19, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Now this rings a bell – Abby with her arm in a sling trying to test recipes for her cookbook and now you. Epidemic? I hope not! And isn’t it wonderful to discover that there are things like this soup – hearty, homemade, delicious – that one can do with one arm? Means that a child can do it! Or anyone can do it after a long, hard, busy day when we are just too tired to cook. I love this soup!


  1. Farmers Market Report: Embracing the Green Edition | Borderstan - March 2, 2012

    […] may not feel like winter outside, but don’t let that stop you from making this Rustic Chickpea and Mushroom Soup with Farro from Domenica Cooks. Farro is a nutty grain that everyone should eat. Adding farro, mushrooms and […]

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