There is something about changing seasons that fills me with anticipation. I don’t know why — it’s not as if there is a big difference between winter and spring in South Florida. I won’t be putting away my winter clothes and pulling out short-sleeved shirts and sandals. Nope. They are already the primary pieces of my wardrobe. Spring cleaning? No – that’s definitely not it. I can’t quite put my finger on it — maybe it’s a renewal thing. Whatever the reason, I look forward to transitioning from one season to another.
To me, this is a perfect soup for the emerging spring. It holds the promise of warmer (or hotter) weather to come, but is still warm and comforting for the last few stubborn breaths of winter.
Most of my ham-based soups start with a leftover ham bone, but this one didn’t have a bone. In fact it had been a gift, and despite the ham dinners, ham biscuits, ham sandwiches and deviled ham, I still had several large slices left over. Bone or not, those remaining leftovers were going into a soup.
Most of the ingredients for this clinging-to-winter/emergent-spring soup were already in my pantry and fridge. I started with the staples — onion, carrots and celery. Garlic, of course and the farro that I’ve been eating since that trip to Costco. I think canned tomatoes and beans fortify most every soup and add body and depth, so I added that too. I also had some frozen green beans that were bordering on frostbite (don’t tell).
The result was a hearty but not heavy broth, brimming with veggies and brightened with the addition of a squeeze of lemon juice and a fragrant herb pistou. This is the kind of soup I could eat all day and that’s a good thing because we were getting all-hammed-out.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 stalks celery, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 cups diced cooked ham
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or one teaspoon dried
- 1 cup farro
- 1 15-oz can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into one inch pieces (or use frozen beans, thawed)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups fresh italian parsley
- 1 clove garlic
- zest of one lemon
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons olive oil
- Additional garnish
- lemon wedges
- grated parmesan cheese
- In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
- Add onion, carrots, celery and sauté 4-5 minutes until vegetables are softened and fragrant.
- Add garlic and cook for one minute.
- Add ham and cook 3-4 minutes.
- Add broth, tomatoes and thyme. Bring soup to a boil.
- Add farro, reduce heat to simmer and cook with lid slightly askew for 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the pistou: In a mini food processor, add basil, parsley and garlic.
- Pulse to mince. Add zest and parmesan and pulse 2-3 times to mix.
- Add olive oil a little at a time, pulsing to blend. Set aside.
- After farro is cooked through, add beans to heat through.
- To serve, ladle soup into a bowl. Drizzle a teaspoon or more of pistou over the soup, add a squeeze of lemon and a little parmesan cheese.