This soup calls for farro or emmer, one of the ancient grains still grown in certain parts of the world. In Australia, it is grown in north-western NSW and can often be found in health or specialty stores. Farro adds great texture and heartiness as well as wonderful flavour.
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 diced onions
8 cloves of garlic
1 sliced celery heart
350g of peeled and diced waxy potatoes
250g finely chopped ripe tomatoes
250g of pearled farro (or barley)
chicken stock *
500g of diced chicken thigh fillet
salt and pepper
*Chicken stock: The basis of many winter soups is good stock. As our chicken and farro soup calls for pieces of diced chicken and chicken stock, it's a good idea to buy a whole chicken, trim the meat off and pop the carcass into a large pot. Add to this a chopped carrot, a chopped onion, a celery stalk and two cloves of garlic. Bring it to the boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Keep skimming the surface for any scum that develops and in two hours you have perfect, clear chicken stock. Use straight away or freeze for later.
Heat ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot.
Add 2 diced onions, 8 cloves of garlic sliced fairly thick, 1 sliced celery heart (including the tender light-green leaves) and 3 fresh bay leaves. Lightly fry the vegetables for 2-3 minutes, making sure they don't colour.
Add 350g of peeled and diced waxy potatoes, 250g finely chopped ripe tomatoes and stir.
Wash 250g of pearled farro (or barley), drain well and stir into the pot.
Add enough chicken stock to cover everything by 3-4 centimetres. Raise the temperature and bring to the boil. As soon as it boils, turn down to a simmer and add a couple of good pinches of salt.
Keep simmering for 20-25 minutes until the farro softens. Add 500g of diced chicken thigh fillet and keep simmering until it is cooked.
Season with salt and pepper and serve.