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Minestrone with Farro and Chia Pesto Recipe

Both chia and farro add not only texture but also health to this veggie-packed soup.

From "Superfood Soups"
January / February 2018

  • The farro in this minestrone adds an incredible 21 grams more protein than its pasta counterpart.
    Photo by LA Food Photography
  • Chia seeds contain eight times as many omega-3 fatty acids as salmon, ounce for ounce.
    Photo by GettyImages/dianazh

Cook Time: 50 min

Yield: 10 servings

Instead of using pasta in this minestrone, I like to use farro (whole, not pearled farro here) — it adds a whopping 21 grams of protein! But what really makes this soup come alive is the addition of the fresh chia pesto, so definitely don’t skip this essential component.

Feel-Good Fact: Chia seeds are well-known for their omega-3 fatty acid content (eight times more than salmon, ounce for ounce). They’re also amazing for bone strength, offering five to six times more calcium than milk. Nutritional yeast delivers energy-boosting protein and amino acids, as well as immune-fortifying vitamins, including B vitamins, which most people get from animal products. It’s also delicious, with a salty-savory-cheesy flavor.


For soup:
• One 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with their juices
• 1/4 cup dried goji berries
• 1 teaspoon kelp granules
• 4 tablespoons miso paste
• 8 cups vegetable broth, divided
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 onion, diced
• 2 carrots, sliced into thin half-moons
• 2 stalks celery, diced
• 3/4 cup farro
• 1 medium zucchini, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or leaves from 2 fresh sprigs)
• 1 bay leaf
• 1-1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or one 14-ounce can), drained
• 1/2 pound broccoli florets and peeled stems, chopped small (about 3 cups)
• 3 large kale leaves, ribs removed, chopped small
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For chia pesto topping:
• 1 tablespoon chia seeds
• 6 tablespoons vegetable broth
• 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves (or a handful of basil ice cubes from last season)
• 3 tablespoons pine nuts
• 1 large clove garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


1. In blender, process tomatoes, goji berries, kelp, miso paste and 1/2 cup broth until smooth. Set aside.

2. Warm oil in large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and farro, and cook, stirring often, 6 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add zucchini, garlic, thyme and bay leaf, and cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.

3. Stir in blended mixture and remaining broth. Bring to boil over high heat, then partially cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in mixing bowl, stir chia seeds into broth. Set aside, stirring occasionally to break up clumps. In food processor, combine remaining pesto ingredients until smooth. Scrape mixture from food processor into bowl with chia seeds and stir thoroughly to combine. Cover and refrigerate until use.

5. Increase soup pot heat to medium, stir in beans and broccoli and cook uncovered, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in kale. Let soup stand 5 to 10 minutes to let kale wilt fully. Remove bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

6. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and swirl in a tablespoon or two of chia pesto.

For more healthful soup recipes, see: Superfood Soups.

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