All Good Things

chick pea farro soup bowls

Incredibly, almost a year has gone by since I last posted a soup recipe. I eat soup at least once a week, no matter the season, for lunch and/or dinner, so I have no idea how this unforgivable omission happened.

Let me fix it.

Let me offer you a bowl of this soup, which is filled with all good things: carrots, celery, onions, chick peas and grains, and a touch of saffron. It’s a typical country soup, with plenty of possibilities for variation. I made it for dinner and am having leftovers for lunch. The soup thickens in the fridge overnight so I like to warm it in a pot until it’s like porridge and top it with a fried egg.

Pretty soon, in about a week’s time, I’ll be making a similar soup with our Abruzzo Presto culinary tour group. It won’t be exactly like this soup because we’ll be making it in a professional kitchen in Sulmona, and we’ll be shopping for our ingredients at the morning mercato in Sulmona’s Piazza Garibaldi.

Sulmona aqueduct

We’re going to be cooking all’improviso, in the moment, letting ourselves be guided by what the season and the vendors have to offer. (My spies over there tell me that there are still plenty of tomatoes, as well as fresh borlotti beans and braided strands of Sulmona’s famous red garlic.)

So even though I don’t quite know how our soup in Sulmona is going to turn out, I do know that it will be filled with good things.

* * * * *

I’ll be posting pics from our Abruzzo tour, (hopefully) here, and for sure on my Facebook page, as well as Instagram and Tumblr. If you can’t be with us physically, please join us virtually.

More soup!
* Gnocchi di Semolina in Meat Broth
* Garlicky Lentil Soup with Carrots and Tuscan Kale
* Zuppa di Zucca Gialla (Winter Squash Soup)

My online Craftsy class on Italian soups

* The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy

Makes 6 servings

Chick Pea and Farro Soup with Saffron

Chick peas, farro and saffron. These three ingredients are cultivated in the hills and fields of Abruzzo and are the culinary stars in many traditional dishes from the region, including soups such as this one. This is one of those soups that gets thicker and thicker the longer it sits. If you have leftovers, heat them up the next day and enjoy them as a porridge, with a fried egg on top.


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/2 small yellow or red onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 yellow summer squash, diced
  • 2 cups cooked chick peas
  • 5 to 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups farro, rinsed and drained
  • Small piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (optional)
  • Generous pinch of saffron threads
  • Salt to taste


Measure the oil into a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot and set over medium-low heat. When the oil is warm, stir in the onion, carrots, garlic and parsley. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened and the carrot is bright orange, about 7 minutes. Add the zucchini and squash and cook, continuing to stir from time to time, until the vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the chick peas. Cook for a few minutes, until the chick peas are heated through. Raise the heat to medium-high and pour in 5 cups of broth. Bring to a simmer and stir in the farro and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss in the Parmigiano rind. When the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low or low to maintain a gentle simmer.

Crush the saffron threads to reduce them to a powder (I use a mortar and pestle but any heavy object, including a meat pounder, will do. Spoon a little of the hot broth from the soup into a small bowl and stir in the pulverized saffron. Pour the saffron broth back into the soup pot and continue to cook at a gentle simmer, stirring from time to time, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the farro is tender but still pleasantly chewy. Add another cup or so of broth, as needed, if the soup is too thick. Taste and season with more salt if you like.

Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle a few drops of olive oil over each serving.

NOTE You can make all sorts of variations to this soup. To simplify it even further, omit the zucchini and carrots and just make it about the farro, chick peas and saffron. To bolster it a bit, add a diced potato or a handful of greens. To make it "in rosso" add a cup or so of crushed tomatoes.

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25 Responses to All Good Things

  1. Rosa Mayland September 17, 2014 at 7:19 am #

    A comforting and healthy soup! The kind of dish I love to eat when the temperatures drop.



    • Domenica Marchetti September 17, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

      Thank you, Rosa. I always look forward to your comments. 🙂

  2. Ciao Chow Linda September 17, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    Oh how I’d love to be joining you on that Abruzzo tour. I’ll be with you virtually though, savoring every morsel that I’m sure will be as delicious as this soup. Buon viaggio, cara amica.

    • Domenica Marchetti September 17, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

      Grazie, cara amica. Wish you could come with us. Maybe next summer we’ll finally meet up over there. xo

  3. Susan Rebillot September 17, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Domenica, this soup looks so savory! I am beginning to really appreciate Farro. I keep cheese rinds in the freezer for just this kind of purpose. Thank you for another great inspiration!

    • Domenica Marchetti September 17, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

      Susan ~ thanks! Always nice to know another farro convert. By the way, if you search the archives here on the blog you’ll find a recipe for sweet farro pudding. Like rice pudding, only much better.

  4. Adri Barr Crocetti September 17, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    I’m with Linda. I wish we were both joining with you. My sister is still going on about it. This soup sounds so good, and I am glad you are enjoying the saffron. Isn’t it just the finest you’ve ever tried? It has an earthiness, almost a moistness utterly lacking in other varieties. I look forward to seeing what you do with it this fall. Buon viaggio.

    • Domenica Marchetti September 17, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

      I plan on stocking up on more saffron while I’m over there. It’s a small luxury (literally) but well worth it. Grazie cara.

  5. Marilena L. September 17, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    Perfect recipe for this time of the year….. Have a great trip Domenica – Sulmona is such a beautiful town. Look forward to getting together when you return from your trip!

    • Domenica Marchetti September 17, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

      Thanks Marilena, me too. I get back Oct. 1. Please feel free to shoot me an email and we’ll schedule a date. Cheers, D

  6. Phyllis @ Oracibo September 17, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    Liking the addition of the saffron a lot. Adri’s comment about the saffron…where is it from, Abruzzo? We have just been getting into adding chick peas to soups and pasta sauce and the difference between the fresh or dried that you cook yourself and the tinned is totally amazing! We first discovered farro while on our first trip to Italy in ’07…and bring back bags of semi-perlato for risotto…all that seems available here is the whole grain which is fabulous in soups! Yay…it’s soup time! Thanks Domenica!

    • Domenica Marchetti September 17, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

      Phyllis ~ the saffron is from Abruzzo, yes. It grows in the Navelli plain; the micro-climate there apparently is well suited to it. It has a distinct flavor and is both less aggressive and more flavorful than other varieties of saffron I’ve had. And such a beautiful golden color. I first had farro in the Garfagnana area of Tuscany, but Abruzzo grows a fair bit as well and you see it often in “minestre.” Cheers, D

  7. Laney September 18, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    Chickpeas and farro – 2 favs and for those of us who wait for cooler weather for our soup, it’s time. Have a wonderful trip and looking forward to seeing all the pics!

    • Domenica Marchetti September 22, 2014 at 1:35 am #

      Thanks Laney, I’m in Abruzzo now. Our tour is underway and so far so good! We’re off to Scanno today. Will post pics on FB and IG!

  8. sippitysup September 18, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    Oh, to be be a fly on that Abruzzo all’improviso wall. GREG

  9. Chiara September 19, 2014 at 1:28 am #

    una buona zuppa calda è il comfort food per eccellenza specialmente con l’arrivo delle giornate umide e più fredde, buon viaggio Domenica !

    • Domenica Marchetti September 22, 2014 at 1:36 am #

      Grazie Chiara. Un giorno ti vengo a trovare a Trieste. xx

      • Chiara October 4, 2014 at 2:10 am #

        sarebbe splendido Domenica, ci sono tanti posti da visitare qui, Linda può dirlo…! Buon weekend !

  10. Meeta September 19, 2014 at 2:45 am #

    Yes I do want that bowl right now. It’s raining – it’s cold and you are satisfying my cravings with this. Love chickpeas and saffron!

  11. Frank Fariello September 20, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    I really like the touch of saffron. One of my favorite spices if done subtly.

    • Domenica Marchetti September 22, 2014 at 1:41 am #

      Thanks Frank. Lovely spice, and pretty too. We’re going to be visiting the Navelli saffron fields in a couple of days with our tour group. I don’t know that the crocuses will be in bloom yet but they should be popping up out of the ground. Should be interesting.

  12. Laura (Tutti Dolci) September 20, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

    It’s not quite soup season yet but soon it will be and I’ll be trying this! Your servings look so cozy, I love the saffron. Have a wonderful trip – I will be following along on Instagram! 🙂

    • Domenica Marchetti September 22, 2014 at 1:41 am #

      Thanks Laura. I’ll post pics from the saffron fields. Cheers, D

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