Because the scale never lies: Farro and Legumes Soup

Farro and legume soup

Farro and legume soup

4 Servings

Hello everyone!

The Holiday season is behind us but our Christmas tree is still up and some of Santa’s presents (unwrapped) are still laying under the tree – mostly because they are so ugly I’m not quite sure what to do with them! 😜

Anyway, this year Santa decided to surprise me with something totally unexpected. Something you cannot really unwrap but you can see, feel and touch, something that makes your clothes feel tighter and tighter as the day goes by.

A magical gift? Not really! I’m rather talking about 5 pounds of sneaky and vicious fat spread out all over my body!

With my parents over for Christmas, I wholeheartedly embraced the holiday spirit by practically eating non-stop and using any excuse that came to mind to ask Stefano to pop a bottle of bubbly. Considering that my body is not exactly in its twenties and my metabolism gets slower as we speak, it was only a question of time before I was called before my judgmental scale to answer for my culinary and drinking sins!

Facing the scale… what a painful experience! Are you familiar with the feeling? I wake up in the morning and lay in bed for a few minutes staring at the ceiling, without moving a muscle, realizing that I’ll have to face reality sooner or later. I know that I just have to find
the courage to step up on that unfriendly machine that I keep hidden in my closet hoping that that malefic hand – never sympathetic, let alone merciful – won’t confirm what my puffier face and my tight clothes have been whispering to me for days now.

Farro and legume soup

Farro and legume soup

Finally, after a couple of days of me being “food cautious”, that decisive day arrives: I step onto that thing with my eyes closed, I take a big breath, I open my eyes and my face involuntarily assumes a horrific expression! It’s even worse than I thought. My emotional
reaction? A bit of depression mixed up with a delusional determination that I’m going to lose those unwanted guests in a couple of weeks. After all, it took me only a month to gain my extra pounds. It’s going to take me much shorter to shed them! I wish, but deep inside I fear I’m totally delusional about that!

And then the “cutting out campaign” begins. It’s time to decide which kind of food is bound to remain on the shelf. I open my imaginary pantry and I start looking. First, the sweets department. No, nothing to cut out there. I don’t have a sweet tooth and I very rarely eat sweets. Relief. I then move my eyes towards the fruit and vegetable department: thank goodness, I don’t have anything to cut out there either. Even more relief. I know this is going to be my best bet and pretty much the only department I will allow myself to access for weeks to come! So I linger in there, pampering myself, with the only aim of procrastinating a painful decision. There won’t be any more relief coming my way. I can see my next department – the carbohydrate department – with the corner of my eye and all my favorite food calling my name for the last time. It is time for me to kiss bread, pizza and pasta goodbye – at least for a while. My heart is bleeding and my tastebuds are getting depressed already. 🙁

To make a long story short, I’m in the middle of soup season. Not those light, watery soups that you usually have as an appetizer and that – after an hour – you feel like they have never been in your tummy. I’m rather talking about those rich, thick and satisfying soups that make you feel full from the end of your dinner until the time you go to bed. I think the soup in this post fits the bill beautifully.

I love legumes for their well-known nutrition benefits and they are perfect for dinner on a freezing winter night. I made this soup for the first time about a year ago (actually the photos that you see here date back to that night 🙂 ) and I found myself making it again during that big snowstorm that hit the East Coast last weekend.

Will this soup do the magic helping me losing weight? Only time will tell! In the meantime, here is the recipe!

Farro and legume soup

Farro and legume soup


1 Cup, chickpeas
1 Cup, white beans
1 Cup, lentils
1/2 Cup, farro
1 Tbsp, baking soda
1/4 Cup, chopped onions
1/4 Cup chopped celery
1/4 Cup chopped carrots
3 Tbsp, extravirgin olive oil
7/8 Cups, vegetable stock
Some leaves of sage
2 rosemary sprigs
Ground black pepper


Farro and legume soup

Farro and legume soup

Put the white beans, the chickpeas and the baking soda into a bowl. Soak the beans and the chickpeas overnight in cold water.

The day after, in a non-stick medium/large pot, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil, add the carrots, the celery, the onion and 1/4 Cup of water and sauté on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the water has completely evaporated.

Drain the chickpeas and the beans and add them to the vegetables. Add the lentils, 5 Cups of stock, some salt and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat.

Cook on a medium/high heat for about 35/40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding some of the remaining stock little by little.

Reduce the heat, add the farro and keep cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding the rest of the stock. Taste the soup to check if it is necessary to add some salt.

Wash the sage leaves and the rosemary sprigs under running water thoroughly and dry them with paper towel. Strip the needles off the rosemary sprigs and chop them roughly.

Place the soup into serving bowls or plates, pour a bit of olive oil on top and garnish the soup with some sage leaves and chopped rosemary needles.

I’ll look at my calendar to pick a date for my next hypothetical “encounter” with the scale. Let’s try to think positive. Maybe this time, my enemy will show me some mercy! 😉

Stay warm!

F. xo

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58 thoughts on “Because the scale never lies: Farro and Legumes Soup

  1. Sabine

    I had a super great time reading this and I adore your honest way about that kind of unpleasant surprise in the bathroom (as you say, mostly it´s not THAT unexpected) ! And I totally agree with you, there´s no meal without a slice of bread, or should I rather say: (half) a baguette. Hope you´re doing well, have a great 2016! Sabine

    1. Francesca Post author

      Hello Sabine! So nice to hear from you and happy 2016 to you and your family too!
      Half a baguette? Who am I kidding? If I’m lucky enough to put my greedy hands on a baguette, there is no way I’m not eating the whole thing … with our without butter! That’s just who I am! 🙂
      Talk to you soon!

  2. laurasmess

    Aw lovely one! I am so sorry that you’re dealing with the dreaded ‘weight issue’. Carbs are my favourite, I adore bread and potatoes the most, and both with butter! However, if I had a bowl of this beautiful filling soup, I might not mind the absence of carbs so much. I love the addition of sage (such a beautiful flavour) and the creaminess that comes just from the beans alone, without having to add any dairy! Good luck on the slimming down. It’s a hard job when you’re a foodie! xxx

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you, Laura! I see you have something in common with my mother: she loooooves bread and butter. As lethal as that! 😉
      I agree with you: that creamy sauce is so special – a miracle of nature – and it takes any dish to a new level of richness.

  3. chef mimi

    Ugh. What a lovely, funny, and sad post. Hate that scale!!! And I don’t need it, but I’m obsessed with it after Christmas. I know when I can’t bend over to tie my shoes!!! Great recipe. I’ll start cooking beans!

  4. Fae's Twist & Tango

    – First, this soup sounds fantastic, Francesca! I have two questions. 1-Why do you add baking soda to soak the beans? 2-I’ve heard, it is best add water to (any) legumes, bring to boil, drain and discard the water, then add the parboiled legumes to the pot to cook (to remove any possible digestive gas). What do you think?
    – I can honestly say that I did not gain any wight from this past holidays. However, I have been gaining since I started blogging, and it is almost 4 years I am staring the ceiling in the morning. There were some yo-yo efforts in-between, but when age is going up, it is more and more difficult to take weight off and without any consequences. Congratulations with your courage to start the process and I totally agree with Stefan’s suggestion. Maybe you have inspired me too! 🙂

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you, dear Fae! Adding baking soda is a technique my mother taught me some time ago and it helps softening the beans faster and decreasing their cooking time.
      The “boiling” technique mentioned in your second question is totally new to me (I also consulted my mom who is still here and she has never heard of it). I’ll have to look into it and give it a shot. Have you tried it already? If yes, did it work?
      I agree with you: the older you get, the more difficult it is to lose weight. I guess it has something to do with the fact that our metabolism gets slower as we speak. What the what! 😉

      1. Fae's Twist & Tango

        – I am going to give the baking soda technique a try and see the difference. Thank you.
        – As for the boiling technique, I do it every time I use legumes (all Iranians who are aware of it, do too). I also found out that the Armenians use the technique too, for the same reason (digestive gas). Japanese use the blanching technique for almost every ingredients, especially for two reasons… to enhance the color of the vegetables and to discard any foam/scum of the ingredients before the real cooking starts. When it comes to legumes they use, they change the water several times (probably for the same reason). 🙂

        1. Francesca Post author

          Very, very interesting, Fae! Thank you for tipping me off. I’ll sure give it a try.
          See, this is what I love about blogging the most: getting to know people belonging to different countries and cultures and exchange ideas, opinions, tips and experiences in a lovely and respectful way! That is simply amazing to me. 😊

  5. Francesca Post author

    Thanks, B.! You are quite right: looking at those numbers is pretty brutal. And you are right again about our clothes being our first and ultimate test. And a pretty unforgiving one! Oh boy! 😉

  6. Just Add Attitude

    Francesca – hello! When I read your entertaining post I thanked my lucky stars I had thrown my scales out a few years ago. Naturally I put on weight over the holidays and I am now attempting to lose it , but at least using how tight my clothes have become as a guide to being above my ‘best’ weight saves me having to look at the reality in actual numbers. Good luck with the reducing! 😉

  7. Antonia

    A perfect soup Francesca! I just love hearty foods for a diet! I am in the same place, so I am going to have to make this. Are you using cannellini beans as the white bean? It is a terrible feeling, isn’t it? Recently I read this great quote that made me laugh, “It is all fun and games until your jeans don’t fit.” By the way, I love your title…so true!

      1. Antonia

        Hi Francesca! I would like to nominate you for the Three Day Quote Challenge. Please do not feel obligated to participate. If you are interested the information is on my homepage. Have a great day 🙂

        1. Francesca Post author

          Thank you so much, Antonia! I appreciate your nomination more than I can say.
          I want to apologize in advance: I’ll do my best to pass on the torch but please do not get offended if I end up not doing it.
          Life gets in the way all the time as my very erratic publishing schedule shows. I make a point of regularly following the bloggers that are dear to me and truly inspirational to me. I want them to feel that I’m there for them the same way they are there for me.
          Thank you again, Antonia! I wish you and your little ones a wonderful love celebration!

          1. Antonia

            You are so welcome Francesca! Please don’t feel obligated. I completely understand. You are so sweet and thank you for all of your support! I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s too 😀

  8. lapetitepaniere

    Love the title of your post, Francesca 😀 I give up a long time ago and I banish the scale from my house 😉 Your soup looks very very tasty, love the thick texture. My kind of soup. Have a great day! 🙂

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you, Linda! I like your “banishment policy”. When we moved to Connecticut, I tried to adopt it too but Stefano said we HAD to have a scale and he bought one without even consulting me. End of the story: he simply refuses to step on it and I’m the only one stuck in this lose-lose situation! 😉

  9. ChgoJohn

    I hear ya, Francesca. This was an especially filling holiday season and now it’s time to pay the piper, so to speak. This soup sounds so good that I don’t care if it helps or hurts my visits to the scale. Great if it helps but if it doesn’t, better to add a little bit of weight enjoying something delicious than by mindless snacking. Bring on the soup! 🙂

    1. Francesca Post author

      It was filling for sure! 😉 🙂
      Thank you very much for your kind words, John, although I have to admit I kind of enjoy some mindless snaking! I know: bad, bad Francesca! 😉

  10. sa.fifer

    i share those after-holiday feelings. This soup looks and sounds so good. I’ll be thinking about you and looking to hear your next encounter with the scale. Your post has encouraged me to go have an encounter with my scale–and join in the preparation for future encounters. Good luck!

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you! Awfully nice of you to be sympathetic! Sorry! Not ready for my next encounter yet! My clothes must be getting a little loose before I even consider the idea of stepping on that thing! 😉

  11. Dina

    Lovely post, I laughed so much, I must have lost a few grams already, Francesca:-) Excellent images, great setting and this soup is what I should have started with weeks ago …
    Big hugs to you all,
    Dina & co Xx

      1. Dina

        Certainly! 🙂
        Hope you’re fine too.:-)
        Hope Her Majesty and Sofia had a swell Xmas and that Sofia kept calm as the fireworks went off.
        Love & hugs from Norway, where we’re visiting family …Xx

  12. Karen

    Oh you gave me such a chuckle…judgmental scale, I’ve got one of those too! Good luck and I’ll be thinking of you each morning as I head out the door for a quick walk. Your soup sounds absolutely delicious, now if it will make the numbers on my scale go down. 😀

  13. Heather @ Sweet Precision

    Oh Francesca, you have such a lovely way with words. I found myself chuckling as I read your post because I can relate with you 100%. The holidays are SUCH a difficult time to be vigilant with what we’re eating. Your soup looks deliciously filling and robust. I noticed that you added baking soda and I was curious, what does this do for the soup?! Here’s to winning your battle with that fickle scale 😉

    1. Francesca Post author

      Hello sweet Heather! Thank you so much for your kind words!
      I’m happy and a bit sad at the same time that you can relate so well! 😜
      My mother taught me to add baking soda to chickpeas and beans because it softens them faster and decreases their cooking time.
      The first time I cooked them without previously soaking them in baking soda, it took me forever and I thought that giving birth would have taken less! 😋

  14. StefanGourmet

    Great minestra. Although it isn’t punishment to eat this, you could also take half portions of pasta or bread instead of cutting them out completely. The lost weight will stay away more easily if you lose it slowly.

  15. Darya

    I didn’t gain wait over the holidays but I have gained tons of weight these past 4 years… so I can imagine how you feel! Your soup sounds deliciously healthful. I love sage and can imagine how wonderful it tastes here!

    1. Francesca Post author

      Thank you, Darya! It is my understanding that during the past four years you have been attending postgraduate school and that you are now working on getting your PhD. Am I right? I do remember those years way too well when life revolved around classes and endless hours in company of humongous books and the kitchen was only a few steps away. Tough and way too stressful times to keep the weight under control. Plus being as skillful as you are in the kitchen doesn’t help … or maybe it does! 🤓
      My best friend used to drink liters of tea during our studying sessions. She said that it was helping a bit! 😋

  16. apuginthekitchen

    Francesca I have the same problem. I gained weight over the holidays and have to lose it. It was horrifying Stepping on that scale and much worse than I even anticipated. I like sweets and bread and pasta and need to cut it all out. Ugh.,, best of
    Luck and I hope you lose the weight you want to lose and the soup looks fabulously delicious! Why is it such a problem for most women. Not fair!😞

    1. Francesca Post author

      Life doesn’t go easy on women after their pregnancies and/or their forties. It is just something we have to learn to live with and to deal with every day. Sometimes, I read those ridiculous interviews by some celebrities saying that their weight – miraculously – just came off by simply breastfeeding or playing with their kids! I personally don’t believe a single word they say. I do believe instead that they watch every single calorie they eat and they sweat their cute butts off every single day! That’s more like it!
      It’s ugly, it’s a struggle we face daily and it’s not certainly fair, dear Suzanne! What the heck!!! 😋