farro and lentil soup

ZUPPA DI LENTICCHIE E FARRO. Castelluccio di Norcia, in the South-East of Umbria is a tiny village located on a lonely outcrop at the centre of one of the most spectacular areas of Central Italy, the Piano Grande . The fields of this magnificent plain produce farro wheat, and the most delicious, tiny, tender  lentils.

lentil fields in the Piano grande di Castelluccio
lentil fields in the Piano grande di Castelluccio

Farro is an ancestral wheat with a characteristic nutty flavor. The term “farro” is a collective name of 3 species of grains, i.e.  emmer, einkorn and spelt. It is considered a healthy food for its high protein and fiber  content.  Ginger was used in Italian cuisine centuries ago, but virtually disappeared after the Renaissance. For a more traditional Mediterranean flavor, ginger  can be  substituted with a  sprig of rosemary or a handful of sage leaves, not both together!


  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup/250 gr.  small green whole lentils
  • 1 cup/250 gr.  farro
  • parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 cups/ 1 lt. water or vegetable stock
  • 1 large garlic clove, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 slice toasted Italian crusty bread/person
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan/person

Some brands of farro might need to be soaked overnight in cold water. Most farro sold nowadays is pearled so does not need soaking.

In a 4-quart heavy saucepan make a “soffritto” by softening the  onion in olive oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until pale golden.  Add ginger and stir for 1 min. Add lentils and spelt, hot water or stock  and simmer, stirring occasionally, until soup is thickened and lentils are soft but still retaining their shape, about 30 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper only when cooked.

At this stage the cooled soup can be frozen. When ready to serve defrost, add some water –  it will be quite solid – and bring to a low boil.

Toast bread slices, rub generously with fresh garlic and then cut them into small cubes. Ladle the soup into soup bowls, scatter over each bowl the chopped parsley,  bread cubes , a  teaspoon of good extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan.  Serve immediately. Serves 8.

a light, healthy soup, almost a meal in itself
a light, healthy, nutritious soup, a great vegetarian a meal
Submitted to a  Tasty Recipes and Cooking Station event

20 thoughts on “farro and lentil soup

  1. This soup looks great. I was searching around for a zuppa di farro, similar to the ones I had last year around Lucca, in the Garfagnana area. There are so many versions!!Happily I stumbled on this version,and your site. I am keen to try this when the weather is cooler here in Australia.


    1. Hi Morgana, thank you for passing by! We love this soup. Although I have tried many recipes I keep making this one over and over again as the balance of taste is just right. Farro garfagnino had originally “cotenne” , pork skins. This is often substituted with pancetta. However that is just too rich for me and I prefer a drizzle of our green, aromatic Umbrian olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.


  2. Hi Neha! Hopefully you can find farro in Singapore. I have a friends who lives in Hong Kong and she can find it there. The taste is rustic and nutty and very nourishing. It makes the soup almost a meal without being too heavy.


  3. Ciao!
    Ho appena “scoperto” il tuo blog … e subito divento “subscriber” 🙂
    Sono Italiana ma vivo in US da 12 anni. Anche io ho un blog e – ovviamente – adoro la cucina italiana…anzi la vita italiana in generale.
    A presto!!!
    Amelia @ http://www.ztastylife.com

    P.s. bellissima la foto dei campi di lenticchie!!!


  4. I was born in Spoleto and my father and I often travel to Norcia to specifically eat lentils and go horseback riding in the hillside and ancient volcanic crater… Your recipe brings back a lot of memories!



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