In my pantry, you will always be able to find an assortment of tomato products; scour the cabinets, and there are bound to be tubes of tomato paste, cans of whole peeled tomatoes, and jars of tomato sauce. In short, I readily rely on tomato as a base for soups, stews, and pasta sauces. A few weeks ago, though, I peered into the pantry and noticed a jar of roasted red peppers, sitting and collecting dust from a purchase made many months prior.
So, I challenged myself to create a dish using red peppers, instead of tomatoes, as a base—something brothy and red pepper forward. I loved the idea of pairing the red peppers with smoked paprika and feta, the paprika providing even more smokiness, and the feta offering a bit of salty, tangy flavor. It’s almost like a harissa-inspired soup. Farro and chickpeas provide a textural bite and transform the soup into a one-pot, complete meal. Best of all, there are very few non-pantry items. It’s an ideal way to use up what you’ve got at home and save a trip to the grocery store. And if you can’t find feta, or you’re out of chickpeas, it’s no big deal either — I’ve got a ton of ways to adapt the recipe to your pantry.
I made this farro soup in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill (using their Organic Farro, which adds a nutty, chewy texture to the dish), and I’m really excited to share the recipe with you. Here’s how to make it.
Prep and chop up some aromatics. Measure out a few pantry ingredients. Blend the roasted red peppers into a smooth paste.
Cook your aromatics, then add the paste of roasted red peppers and let it cook down for a few minutes. Add in your spices.
Simmer the soup with vegetable stock, and cook the farro.
Just before the farro is cooked, add in the chickpeas.
Plate each bowl of soup with a garnish of feta and parsley.
What ingredients are in this soup?
Aromatics: Garlic, onion, carrots, and celery provide a hearty base for the soup. They add a little bit of sweetness and warmth.
Spices: Smoked paprika, chili flakes, ground cumin, and ground coriander help to amp up the flavor here. The smoked paprika is pretty front and center in this dish, so I recommend getting the good stuff (typically, you can find a high-quality smoked paprika at specialty cheese/pasta shops, international food stores, or online). This is the smoked paprika I use.
Roasted Red Peppers: To bring out the full flavor of the roasted red peppers, you’re going to need to use about six of them (about a 16-ounce jar, drained and rinsed). Do note that jarred roasted red peppers can often have a salt brine, so make sure to rinse them to remove that, otherwise your soup might end up very salty.
Farro: I use Bob’s Red Mill’s Organic Farro here. It takes about 25 to 30 minutes for the farro to cook in the soup until tender, but if you soak it, it’ll cook even more quickly. You can also use leftover farro here, and skip the cooking step (regardless, you’ll still want to simmer the soup for at least 15 to 20 minutes to help develop its flavor).
Chickpeas: Cooked chickpeas (either dried and cooked or canned, drained, and rinsed) add a bit of protein to the dish — and pair well with red peppers and feta.
Tips for making this soup
Prep ahead: If you get all your aromatics chopped, you can prep the rest of the components (blending the roasted red peppers, measuring additional spices, etc.) while they’re cooking.
Serve with crusty sourdough bread or toasted pita: I loove a good crusty bread or pita to sop up the liquids.
If the soup doesn’t feel balanced, you may need to adjust seasonings: Often times, when soups or stews taste slightly off (that something feels missing feeling!), you can adjust seasonings to achieve the flavor profile you’re looking for. If the soup tastes too smoky or red peppery, try adding some more ground cumin or coriander — both those spices are very earthy, so they help round out the dish.
Can I use homemade roasted red peppers instead of jarred peppers?
Absolutely! Homemade roasted red peppers might even add a little bit more flavor than the jarred version. Just make sure to use an equivalent amount of peppers. When I roast red peppers at home, I typically place them on a baking sheet and broil until charred on all sides (a grill works too). You want them to be charred enough so that the skin is easy to remove. Once charred, let them cool completely, then peel the skin off.
Swaps and substitutions
Celery and carrots add a little bit of sweetness, but if you don’t have them, feel free to omit.
White beans are a great sub for chickpeas here. In fact, their softer texture is a nice contrast to the farro. You can absolutely use white beans, and if you want to go for a more Italian-inspired soup, you can even nix the paprika, cumin, and coriander. Try adding in some dried oregano instead.
I call for parsley, but dill and mint would also be lovely here.
If you don’t have feta, I bet a spoonful of salted yogurt or labneh (just season a little bit of Greek yogurt or labneh with salt) would be great too.
How far ahead can I make this soup?
You can make the soup 1 to 2 days ahead of time and reheat in the microwave or simmer on the stove until warmed. You may need to add a little bit more liquid as the soup will thicken in the fridge. Also, the farro will absorb more liquid over time, so the texture may change slightly — if this bothers you, feel free to cook the farro separately, and then add it back in when serving.
This post is brought to you by Bob’s Red Mill. I received compensation in exchange for this collaboration. All opinions are my own. Thank you!
Smoky Red Pepper And Farro Soup With Feta Recipe
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 stalk of celery
- 1 small onion
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (or 3/4 teaspoon aleppo chili flakes, plus more if desired)
- Black pepper
- 1 16- ounce jar of roasted red peppers (drained and rinsed well (should yield 11 to 12 ounces of drained peppers, or a little less than 1 1/2 cups); homemade roasted red peppers work here too!)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika (not spicy, plus more if desired)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin (plus more if desired)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander (plus more if desired)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups 1 quart vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup farro (rinsed; I used Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro)
- 1 15.5- ounce can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed well)
- A generous handful of parsley
- 1/2 cup feta cheese (preferably sheep’s milk feta in brine, crumbled into small pieces)
- Prep the aromatics: Finely mince the garlic. Finely chop the carrot, celery, and onion.
- Cook the aromatics: In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, add 2 tablespoons of oil and the garlic. Heat to medium-low, then cook the garlic until it just starts to get fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the red pepper flakes; once they sizzle, add in the onion, carrot, and celery. Increase the heat to medium and cook the aromatics until softened and slightly shrunken in size, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Blend the roasted red peppers: While the aromatics are cooking, use a small blender to blend the drained peppers into a smooth and homogeneous paste.
- Build the rest of the soup: Add the roasted red pepper paste to the pot, and stir to combine. Let cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the paste begins to stick to the sides of the pan. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the smoked paprika, cumin, and coriander, and cook for 1 minute. Add in the apple cider vinegar, vegetable broth, 1 1/2 cups water, and 1/2 cup of farro. Season with salt and pepper (though keep in mind, the feta garnish will add some more saltiness). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until farro is just barely al dente, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Finish the soup: Just before the farro is cooked, stir in the chickpeas. Continue simmering until farro is completely cooked, about 5 minutes. Stir in half the parsley into the soup. Taste the soup, and adjust with seasonings, adding the remaining paprika if desired, and additional amounts of the other spices as needed. If the soup is too thick, you can thin it out with a bit of water.
- Serve the soup: Divide the soup into bowls, and top with feta crumbles and more parsley. Note: Once served, the soup is best when you mix in the feta, so that you can get a bit of saltiness in each bite. Serve hot with crusty bread or pita.