Don't be fooled by the name - the character of this thick, wholesome soup is more North-African than Italian. It has a lot in common with the European version though, with the farro semiperlato playing a similar role in the vermicelli noodles found in many recipes. 

Winter Minestrone - Serves 4 


  • 7oz/200grams farro semiperlato (or pearled spelt) 
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • pinch of crushed dried chilli flakes 
  • 14oz/400 grams can tomatoes
  • 1/2-1 quart (800ml) - 1 litre vegetable stock 
  • 14oz/400 grams can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or soak and cook from dried) 
  • 1 bunch kale, shredded
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated vegetarian parmesan to serve (omit if dairy free) 


  1. Rinse the farro in a sieve under cold running water tip into a bowl, cover with cold water and soak for 20 minutes while you prepare the soup base. 
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. 
  3. add the chopped veggies and cook over a low-medium heat for 10-15 minutes until tender but not coloured. Add the crushed garlic and chilli flakes and cook for a further minute. 
  4. Pour the tomatoes into the pan, add the stock and bring to boil. Drain the farro and add to the pan. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook the soup for 25 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the farro is cooked. 
  5. Add the cannellini beans and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. You may need to add extra stock if the soup is too thick. 
  6. Add the kale and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender. 
  7. Season the taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of grated parmesan. 

For a gluten free version of this heartwarming soup, replace the farro with quinoa or omit altogether. 

What does your face say about your health?