We ate this soup last night and it was fabulous -- again, perfect for camping because it requires very little preparation, one pot over one burner, and just a few ingredients.
Don't immediately dismiss this soup simply because it contains the B word (as in Brussels sprouts). In fact, if you don't tell people ahead of time, they just might not guess what those greens are anyway. If you really, really hate Brussels sprouts, substitute kale or spinach, but be warned -- the Brussels sprouts stay much firmer than any other greens, giving this soup a nice texture and slight crunch that you won't find if you use something else. So try it before you decide it's gross.
Farro is a terrific grain for soups, because it stays firm, with a nice, nutty flavor. It's sometimes called spelt, incorrectly; all spelt is farro, but not all farro is spelt (feels like the SAT, right?). Spelt is the firmest of the farro grains. If you have the choice, buy farro. If not, go ahead and get spelt, but be aware that 20 minutes may not be sufficient cooking time.
Farro does not typically contain the wheat proteins to which some people are allergic, making it a terrific alternative; however, there is some confusion over whether or not farro is actually gluten-free or wheat-free, and it seems to depend on the grower, oddly enough; so don't automatically assume your farro is gluten-free or wheat-free unless the manufacturer or distributor claims it to be so. There is a type of gluten in farro but it differs significantly from the gluten in wheat, so true celiac sufferers should still avoid farro; but those who are allergic to wheat usually find it to be safe. Farro and wheat come from the same triticum family, so technically farro is a wheat. But not really. Whatever. Do your homework.
Serve this with nice, whole grain bread -- it's a tad oily, thanks to the sausage, and when dipped in the soup, the bread really cuts through it and absorbs any residual oil quickly.
1 T olive oil
1 lb bulk sweet italian pork sausage (not the kind that looks like a hot dog...get the bulk sausage, sold in the pork section of your grocery store butcher area -- the kind that looks a bit like ground beef)
1 onion, cut in half and sliced very thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup madeira or white wine
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
about 15 Brussels sprouts, cut longwise into three or four slices
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, NOT drained
6 cups beef stock (or chicken stock, if you don't have beef stock on hand)
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups farro
salt and pepper
- Heat olive oil in a stock pot until shimmering. Add sausage and brown, breaking up larger pieces with the back of a wooden spoon.
- Remove all but about 1 T of the grease in the pot (and leave the sausage in the pot, too). Add the onions and garlic, and saute for about 7 minutes.
- Add madeira and scrape the bottom of the pot until deglazed. Add mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and tomatoes (with their juices) and cook, stirring constantly, about ten minutes.
- Add stock, bay leaf and farro. Cover and let simmer over low heat about 20 minutes or until farro is cooked through.
- Season with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty whole-grain bread.