Spring Vegetable Soup with Farro and Chicken Sausage
Whelp, friends, I’m back from spring break (WHOOO!).
I had a note in my editorial calendar to write a “return from vacation post” about how relaxed, rejuvenated, and creatively restored I feel. And I did sit down to write that post this morning. But then I remembered how much I hate to lie to you.
Here’s how things typically go for yours truly RE: Vacay…
I arrive at beach destination. I read books. I bake myself responsibly between regular applications of SPF 30 on my body/SPF 50 on my moneymaker face while watching my roommate splash in the ocean. I guzzle absurdly named rum cocktails with zero regard for calories or potential hangovers (to be honest, I don’t get hangovers on vacation, which proves that they are mostly mental?) and wear various sassy “resort” outfits. In the evenings, Logan and I play competitive board games and have extremely intellectual conversations about the other guests at our hotel. It’s magical.
After a few days, I start to think we should move to whatever exotic locale we happen to be visiting. Logan could do something in island finance(?), I’d become an Instagram celebrity (people love pics of coconuts in the air and beach sunsets!!)/rum promoter, and we’d live a simple, happy life.
My beach-dwelling fantasy is abruptly shattered when I’m inevitably forced to board a plane home, where I spend at least 48 hours feeling itchy and anxious before I’m able to reap any of the trip’s intended rejuvenating/restorative benefits. Cue the teeny-tiny violins, dammit.
However, I’m attempting to nip my post-vacation blues in the bud this time around because spring has sprung in NYC, and I don’t want to waste a single second of it.
As any New Yorker can attest, spring is fleeting in the city. The weather seems to transition from polar vortex to swampy inferno with barely a hint of an in-between (a shame, since I’m quite fond of my frivolous spring jacket collection), so one must take full advantage of the blossoming trees, moderate temps, and delightful produce while they last. And that’s exactly what I plan to do this evening! I’m gonna walk outside, Instagram appreciate the trees in bloom, and whip up a giant pot of this Spring Vegetable Soup with Chicken Sausage and Farro.
QUICK, PEOPLE!! You need to get on this recipe, ASAFP while the asparagus is peaking and it’s still cool enough to eat soup without sweating and crying in front of your air conditioner. It’s loaded with some of my favorite spring greens—asparagus! leeks! spinach!—plus nutty whole grain farro, and plenty of lean chicken sausage. A solid squeeze of lemon juice gives the soup a bright, zippy flavor, and a showering of fresh herbs and Parmesan add optional but awesome flavor fireworks.
A couple quick recipe notes and you do you options. First, this soup freezes fabulously, so I highly recommend making a double batch and freezing half for future busy/lazy days. Vegetarians should feel free to ditch the sausage and add some white beans or chickpeas for protein, and gluten-free folks, you can sub quinoa or brown rice for the farro. (If using brown rice, please cook it before adding it to the soup. Uncooked rice will absorb too much liquid, capiche?) And don’t be afraid to experiment with different greens! I love spinach, but the soup is also excellent with arugula, kale, and even dandelion greens, so throw in whatever you have on hand.
Happy spring, weirdos!
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 links 8-10 ounces pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage, halved lengthwise then thinly sliced crosswise into half moons
- 1 large leek white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1½ cups ¼-inch carrot rounds
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2/3 cup semi-pearled farro rinsed well and drained
- 7-8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1½ cups 1-inch pieces of asparagus
- 2 packed cups baby spinach
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
For serving: (optional)
- Chopped fresh parsley or chives
- Shaved Parmesan cheese
- Extra lemon wedges
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot (or Dutch oven) over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the chicken sausage and cook until very lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
Add the leek and carrots, and cook for 3-4 minutes just until softened. Stir in the garlic and farro, and cook for 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the chicken broth (7 cups for a thicker soup, 8 cups for a more brothy soup) and bring it to a boil. Lower to a simmer, and cook for 15-20 minutes until the farro is al dente (aka just tender).
Add the asparagus to the soup and cook for 3-4 minutes until bright green and just tender. Stir in the lemon juice and baby spinach and cook for 1 minute, just until the spinach has wilted. Taste and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with fresh herbs and shaved Parmesan (if using). Serve with extra lemon wedges if you like.
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