Zuppa of Farro with Tomatoes and Spinach
Saved by Soup

This hearty, savory soup is made with a particular variety of whole wheat that the Italians call farro. It cooks into a luscious, creamy consistency very much like barley. Other whole wheat berries don't compare; they require much more cooking time and never become so exquisitely textured. Farro can be purchased in Italian specialty stores. If you can't find it, pearl barley is the best substitute. As this soup stands, it thickens, so you may want to add some extra broth before you reheat it.

1 TEASPOON OLIVE OIL
1MEDIUM-SIZE ONION, FINELY CHOPPED
2MEDIUM-SIZE CARROTS, FINELY CHOPPED
1RIB CELERY, TRIMMED AND FINELY CHOPPED
2 CUPS CANNED CHOPPED TOMATOES, WITH THEIR JUICES
4 CUPS DEFATTED CHICKEN OR VEGETABLE BROTH, PREFERABLY HOMEMADE
1 CUP FARRO
4 CUPS LOOSELY PACKED, RINSED, AND ROUGHLY CHOPPED FRESH SPINACH LEAVES
 SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
2 TABLESPOONS FRESHLY GRATED PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO CHEESE (OPTIONAL)

Heat the oil in a heavy 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and broth and stir in the farro. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the saucepan, and simmer until the farro is tender and the grains are enlarged and have turned a creamy, light color, about 30 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until the spinach is tender, about 5 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish each serving with some cheese, if desired.

Makes 6 servings

Nutritional information per serving without cheese
163 calories, 2.5 grams of fat