Foodist Approved: Tuscan Red Lentil Soup with Kale and Farro

by | Jan 15, 2014
Red lentil soup with kale and farro

Red lentil soup with kale and farro

This past week has been a pinch hectic as my husband and I closed on our first house and are getting ready to move.

Dinners had to be quick and easy with minimal cleanup, meaning one-pot meals instead of my usual nightly disaster in the kitchen (which always keeps my husband busy scrubbing). But into those single pots I also needed to fit a lot of healthy goodness, as I’ve been extra hungry lately (have I mentioned that I’m pregnant!!).

My best concoction from the week was a creamy, hearty soup that I loved so much, I made it twice. This recipe takes less than fifteen minutes to throw together and then you can just sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the smells while it simmers (no wine for me!).

I got lucky with how good this soup turned out as I was actually just trying to use up a few random ingredients in our pantry. I found a bag of red lentils that had been sitting neglected for a while. I like how red lentils take on a creamy texture when cooked in a broth. They’re perfect for thickening a soup and they add a healthy dose of protein and fiber.

I tossed in a cup of farro to make it a meal. That, combined with the kale, made this a one-pot meal loaded with both nutrition and flavor.

It also makes for a delicious vegan soup (there is no actual cream in this creamy soup). Simply use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and skip the sprinkle of parmesan.

Tuscan Red Lentil Soup with Kale and Farro

Yield: 8 servings

  • 1 onion, small dice
  • 5 carrots, large dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly mince
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs, leave whole
  • 1 bunch kale, wash, de-stem, rough chop
  • 1 ½ cups red lentils
  • 1 cup pearled farro, rinse
  • 4 cups (1 box) organic chicken broth
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T umeboshi paste*
  • 3 cups water
  • parmesan (optional)

In a large soup pot heat the olive oil over medium-high, add the salt and sauté the onion and carrot until tender, but no browning. Add the garlic and sauté for a few more minutes.

Add the chicken broth, water, farro, lentils, thyme sprigs, bay leaves and pepper. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer 30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems. Add the chopped kale and umeboshi paste. Stir to combine. I like to serve this soup thick like a stew but if too thick add additional water.

Once the kale has wilted, taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Ladle into soup bowls, top with parmesan shavings and serve hot with a crusty baguette.

*Umeboshi paste is a very sour and salty condiment made of pickled umeboshi plums. It’s used a lot in Japanese cooking and revered for promoting healthy digestion. It lends a great flavor profile to soups and sauces, as the acid and salt enhance the other flavors. It can be found in most health food stores. I love it!

Elyse Kopecky is a social media consultant and whole foods chef based in Portland, OR. After 10 years working for NIKE and EA SPORTS she left her desk job for the chance to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at and @freshabits.

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19 Responses to “Foodist Approved: Tuscan Red Lentil Soup with Kale and Farro”

  1. Darya Rose says:

    Huge congrats on the bun in the oven, Elyse!!

  2. Michella says:

    This soup sounds so yummy! I must try it soon. Thanks Elyse

  3. melissa says:

    Is it important to stir in the umeboshi when the soup is not too hot? Assuming umeboshi has beneficial bacteria.

    • Hi Melissa,
      Sorry the move kept me from responding sooner. Yes umeboshi is “live” similar to miso. It’s best to stir it in at the end after you’ve cut the heat. The soup can still be hot, just not boiling.


  4. Kate says:

    This sounds delicious! I love easy one pot meals. Thanks for sharing and congrats on the pregnancy.

  5. Annie says:

    I made this for lunch today. It was really good, and we enjoyed it. I used chard instead of kale since my husband doesn’t like kale. I also used Trader Joe’s “10 minute” farro, which doesn’t really seem like it could be done in 10 minutes since it was still nicely chewy after the soup was done. I did use much more than 4 cups of water, even though I like my soups thick, too. I also didn’t have the umeboshi so I used a splash of balsamic vinegar and then put in some smoked paprika just because it seemed like the thing it needed. Thanks for a good recipe.

  6. Curt Snarr says:

    This looks super tasty. Lentils cook up quickly… this looks like a light and yet filling recipe. I’ll have to try it!

  7. Craig Nisbet says:

    Just finished your book. Cooking tons of food, bring on more delicious recipes. Big fan of your husband from back during the TechTV days. Congrats on the baby you two.

  8. Gee says:

    great recipe! went vegan with it, added some celery fennel and didn’t sacrifice any flavor. farro adds such a great earth bound comfort to soups, pairs great with the lentils.

  9. Kim says:

    Made this for dinner. Used chard instead of kale and boosted up the heat with 1/4 tsp cayenne. No farro, so used barley. Also none of the umboshi paste, so just used vinegar. Very tasty!

  10. Emma says:

    I made this last night, I got home and realized I only had 1 carrot so I improvised and put in some pumpkin and celery too, and I used barley instead of farro. It was sensational, everyone loved it! I can’t wait to eat the leftovers for lunch. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. kelly says:

    i added a dash of cayenne and curry! yum!

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