Crispy Mushroom and Farro Soup with Sour Cream and Celery
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound of mushrooms, sliced (e.g., cremini, shitake, and maitake are all great choices)
- ½ medium sweet onion, sliced thinly
- 2 stalks celery, sliced thinly on the bias (save the leaves!)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
- 1 cup pearled farro
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- 1 quart beef stock
- 2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- For Serving:
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- Leaves of 2 stalks of celery
- 1/3 cup fresh dill, picked
- Place a cooling rack on an aluminum sheet pan. Place in the oven and preheat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and stir to coat. Let the mushrooms crisp and brown in the hot oil, stirring only occasionally, approximately 8-12 minutes. (Over-stirring will cause the mushrooms to turn out gray and soggy, so resist the temptation to continuously mess with them!) At this point, some of the mushrooms will still look gray, but others will make you concerned that you're burning them. Don't worry; that's how you know you're doing it right. Season all of them gray and borderline-burnt alike with salt and pepper. Stir. Cook 2 minutes more. Remove mushrooms to the sheet pan and keep them warm and crispy in the oven. Repeat this step with 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and the other half of the mushrooms.
- Now that you're done with the mushroom pan, pour in one cup of beef stock while it's still hot. There will be a lot of smelly steam enjoy it! Scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan to incorporate them into the stock. Save this savory, rich liquid for later.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the celery and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, approximately 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and thyme. Cook 2 minutes more, just enough time to take the edge off the raw garlic.
- Stir in farro and cook for 2 minutes. This will make the already very earthy farro taste even nuttier (i.e., it's worth the extra time). Add tomato paste and stir to coat. Cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally, to begin browning the tomato paste and bringing out the best of its deep flavor.
- Add the stock from the mushroom pan, the remaining beef and vegetable stock, and the tamari, being sure to scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the Dutch oven as you do so. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 25 minutes or according to the farro package instructions. When cooked properly, the farro should be a little chewy but not crispy.
- To serve, ladle the farro and broth mixture into bowls. Top with a dollop of sour cream, a healthy serving of crispy mushrooms, a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of lemon zest, a few celery leaves, and a tablespoon or so of picked, fresh dill. Enjoy piping hot, ideally on the couch under a big, warm blanket.