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Preparation Set the farro in a large bowl or spouted glass measuring cup and add ample cold water to cover. Set aside while you cook the beans.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, heavy pot over mediumhigh heat. Stir in the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until the onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook until the onion is lightly browned, a few minutes more.
Drain the cannellini beans and add them to the pot. Add 8 cups of water. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot and simmer until the beans are almost tender, 40 to 60 minutes (depending on age and storage conditions).
Drain the farro. Add the farro, tomatoes, and salt. Return to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the kale: Discard a few inches of the tough root ends. Thinly slice the stems and coarsely chop the leaves. Rinse well by dunking it in a large bowl or sink full of water. Drain well.
When the farro has simmered for 10 minutes, stir in the kale gradually, adding more as each batch wilts. Cover and continue cooking until the beans, farro, and kale are tender, usually 10 to 20 minutes more. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, the basil, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.
Express Farro and Chickpea Soup Soak the farro for 10 to 15 minutes. Instead of dried cannellini beans, substitute 1 can (16 or 19 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed. Add them when you add the drained farro.
Use Great Northern or navy beans instead of cannellini beans.
Grain Exchange Substitute 1 cup uncooked Kamut for the farro. Add it when you add the soaked beans. Increase the water to 9 cups.
Reprinted with permission from Whole Grains Every Day Every Way by Lorna Sass. Copyright © 2006 by Lorna Sass. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
Lorna Sass is the award-winning author of more than a dozen cookbooks, including the bestselling Cooking Under Pressure. She holds a doctorate in medieval literature from Columbia University and lives in New York City. Visit her at www.LornaSass.com.