Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Recipe for Chicken Soup with Farro, Kale, and Turmeric

Chicken Soup with Farro, Kale, and Turmeric
This tummy-warming chicken soup has farro, kale, and turmeric to brighten the flavors.

I love chicken soup, but without enough spices to bring out flavor it can sometimes be a bit ho-hum, which is why I used generous amounts of dried thyme, dried sage, and ground turmeric in this Chicken Soup with Farro, Kale, and Turmeric.  If you're not familiar with turmeric, it's the spice that gives curry powder the bright yellow color and it goes well with many savory flavors.  Farro is an ingredient I fell in love with a few years ago, but you could substitute barley, or even brown rice for a gluten-free version.  This is a relatively quick soup that would be easy to make when you get home from work, especially if you have some leftover cooked chicken, and if you're lucky you'll have enough to take for your lunch the next day!

Farro comes in whole grain (rarely found in the U.S.), semi-pearled (most common in the U.S.), and pearled varieties, and I used semi-pearled for this soup.  That type still has some of the bran left on the grains, but it has been partly removed.  If you use pearled farro it will cook much more quickly.

Heat the olive oil and saute the chopped onion, celery, and carrots, just until they are starting to soften.  Then add the thyme, sage, and turmeric and cook 1-2 minutes more. 

Add the chicken stock and simmer on low for 15 minutes.  (I used homemade chicken stock, but you can use chicken broth from a can if you don't have any homemade.)

Then add the farro and let the soup simmer about 30 minutes, or until the farro is starting to soften.  (I bought Roland Semi-Pearled Farrofrom, but you can also use barley or brown rice if you can't find farro.)

While the farro cooks, chop the kale and give it a good wash in the salad spinner if it's garden kale.  (If you're using larger kale leaves from the store, you'll need to cut out the center ribs.

Dice up about 2 cups of cooked chicken.  (You can poach two chicken breasts, or use leftover rotisserie chicken.

When the farro has cooked 30 minutes, test some to see if it is getting tender.

Then add the chopped kale and chicken and cook at a low simmer about 30-40 minutes more, or until the kale is tender and the flavors are well blended.  (If the soup seems thicker than you'd like at this point, add a couple of cups of water.)

The finished soup will be a lovely yellow color and very flavorful; season with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve hot!

Chicken Soup with Farro, Kale, and Turmeric
(Makes about 6 servings; recipe created by Kalyn when she was craving farro.)

2-3 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup chopped onion)
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped carrots
2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. ground turmeric
10 cups homemade chicken stock (or use canned chicken broth if you don't have any homemade; one can = not quite 2 cups broth)
1/2 cup semi-pearled Farro (can substitute barley, or use brown rice for gluten-free version)
2 cups cooked chicken, diced in medium-sized pieces (or start with 2 chicken breasts and cook in water or stock)
4 cups finely chopped kale
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

If you don't have leftover cooked chicken, cook two chicken breasts for about 20 minutes at a very low simmer in enough water or chicken stock to barely cover them.   Let chicken cool enough until you can handle it, then shred or chop into medium-sized pieces.

Heat the oil in a heavy medium-sized soup pot; add the chopped onion, chopped celery, and chopped carrots and saute just until they are starting to soften.  Then add the dried thyme, dried sage, and ground turmeric and saute 1-2 minutes more.  

Add the chicken stock and cook at a low simmer about 15 minutes.  Then add the farro and continue to simmer about 30 minutes more.  While soup simmers, finely chop the kale (and wash if needed) and dice the cooked chicken into medium-sized pieces.  After 30 minutes, check the farro to be sure it's starting to soften; then add the chopped kale and diced chicken and let the soup simmer at very low heat for about 30-40 minutes more.  (If the soup seems thicker than you'd like it when you add the kale and chicken, add about 2 cups of water at this point.)

When the kale is softened and flavors are well-blended, season the soup to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper and serve hot.

This will keep in the fridge for a few days, although the farro absorbs the liquid so you may need to add more water when you reheat it.  I'm guessing this freezes well too, but I haven't tried freezing it yet.

Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions: 
This soup is loaded with low-glycemic ingredients, but the use of farro and carrots makes it limited to phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Tasty Ideas with Farro:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Farro Pilaf from TasteFood
Farro with Mushrooms, Thyme, and Balsamic Vinegar from Kalyn's Kitchen
Mediterranean Farro Bowl with Yogurt Tahini Sauce from Circle B Kitchen
Autumn Harvest Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale, and Farro (or brown rice) from Kalyn's Kitchen
Farro Salad with Mushrooms, Tomatoes, and Basil from David Lebovitz
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosure:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
counter customizable free hit
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. I love how you've dressed up this soup! The farro is a great touch...perfect for giving the soup some texture!

  2. This is the kind of soup I get cravings for, too, and you remind me that I don't use farro often enough. I can buy it at the Italian markets in Providence, seldom at the regular grocery stores around here.

  3. Thanks Joanne. I love farro and an vowing to use it more often.

    Lydia I have finally used all the farro I bought with you in Providence, so I had to order it from Amazon. I haven't found true farro anywhere in Utah except at the import grocery stores, where it's more expensive than Amazon.

  4. I love the texture of farro, although I haven't made it since last year - it's hard to find around here. Great hearty fall soup Kalyn!

  5. Thanks Jeanette. Sounds like it is hard to find most everywhere (except where Lydia is, lucky her!)

  6. I, too, am SO heavily into soup right now. I've honestly never tried turmeric and kale in a chicken soup, but this is getting added to my roster for sure.

    -- Anne

  7. Anne, Jake and I both loved the turmeric in this. We agreed that even more turmeric would be good.

  8. I was just staring at the turmeric bottle in my spice drawer last night. This is exactly why I love your expand my use of spices and make my cooking more interesting.

    Can't wait to make this. I just got kale in my CSA share this week.

  9. Becky, isn't it fun how the internet introduces us to new flavors. Turmeric is so good; hope you enjoy the soup!

  10. Great flavors here Kalyn - I am a big fan of Tumeric this just looks so comforting for the cool weather we are now getting!

  11. Oh my goodness - I love all these ingredients - I have been using pearled spelt here in the UK to make risottos - it is similar to farro. I have been taking turmeric capsules in order to help with inflammation in my body and they help. My dog gets the kale ribs after I strip and cut them up - she is crazy for them. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. I make a soup every Sunday and this one is going on my list!

  13. Ok, I must get on this Farro thing. What is my hold up?!!

  14. I was amazed to finally find farro at my local grocery store, and I think that is because of the Italian owners. I'm going to experiment with it this weekend.

    This sounds delightful!

  15. Tasty and healhty soup, looks delicious.

  16. Oh my that does look good. Perfect for today too. It's snowy today. I enjoyed my visit to your yummy blog xo

  17. Now THIS is the way to do chicken soup. This is just begging to be made in my kitchen.

  18. Kalyn, you've done it again! This is by far the best chicken soup we have ever tasted...let alone made on our own! It's going into heavy rotation in our house. Thanks!!!

  19. Do not be what is Farro and I believe that in Spain I am not going to find it, at least not in my city either, it is possible that yes they are in Madrid or in Barcelona, but not in Santander. Nevertheless I will try to do this soup with barley as you have advised, because one sees delicious, even it might put on sweet maize and give him this way a good touch. In the end the chickens eat maize.

  20. Sara, Farro is usually from Italy, so you might find it in an import store. But if not, barley will be great in this.


I'm so happy you're taking the time to comment on Kalyn's Kitchen! I love hearing from people who stop by, especially if you're sharing feedback or asking questions about a recipe I've posted here.

I've recently changed my comment settings so people can comment without signing in, but you will need to check the box to show you're a live person, and comments on older posts won't show up until I publish them. Thanks for understanding!

And if you really like the recipe, Pins, Shares, Tweets, and Yums are always appreciated!

Blogging tips