Think ahead so you have options: Kale and Farro Soup

January 12, 2017

By Kay MacInnis, Registered Dietitian

Still working on getting back to normal after the holidays? It takes a little time to get everything moving in the right direction when you start working on your health. Thinking ahead and making sure what you have everything you need to make “healthy” happen ensures that the process moves forward, even if it is slow.

Part of that process is making sure that when you open the cabinet or refrigerator, you have options for healthy eating. Shop with that in mind. Make yourself try a new recipe each week – try something you have not tried before. Or look for new ingredients to add to your old favorites.

You might think about trying farro, an ancient grain that provides protein, fiber and carbohydrate. It can easily be added to oatmeal at breakfast or with quinoa or a rice dish at dinner. One of my favorite ways to use it is in soups or stews.

You can shorten the cook time by soaking it in water before using in your recipe. That also makes it a little more tender, but I admit I usually just add it to what I am cooking without soaking.

Farro is not an option for people with celiac disease – it’s a form of wheat, so it is not gluten-free.

Kale and Farro Soup


  • 2 medium fresh carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium fresh yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lemon, for zest/juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive
  • 32 oz. low sodium broth
  • 1 (14.5-oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free roasted garlic/herb seasoning
  • 4 cups baby kale (I like to chop)
  • 1 (15.5-oz) can reduced-sodium cannellini beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 6 teaspoons reduced-fat feta cheese, divided – sometimes I use fresh grated parmesan
  • Chop carrots, onions, celery (1 cup each); chop garlic.
  • Zest/grate lemon peel (no white; 1 teaspoon); squeeze for juice (1 tablespoon).


  • Preheat large stockpot on medium-high 2-3 minutes.
  • Place oil, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic in pot; cook and stir 3 minutes.
  • Stir in broth, tomatoes, farro, oregano, and seasoning.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and cover; simmer 20 minutes. Stir in kale and beans; cook 5-7 minutes or until farro and kale are tender.
  • Chop parsley.
  • Stir in lemon juice, zest, and parsley.
  • Place stew in serving bowls; top with cheese. Serve.

Nutrition Information: 250 Calories: 3.5 grams fat; 0 mg. cholesterol; 420 mg. sodium; 46 grams carbohydrate; 10 grams protein.


This is another in a weekly series of healthy recipes from Kay MacInnis, registered dietitian at Providence Health in Columbia, SC.

Kay promotes health and wellness, helping cardiac and diabetes patients eat their way to healthier lives. She works in consultation with the trained chefs at Providence, combining her nutrition knowledge with their food prep know-how to create delicious, healthy dishes for patients and the public. She also conducts a number of health and wellness events for the public, including the monthly Providence Cooks! classes.

"She doesn't just give you the fish, she teaches you how to cook it."

 – a Kay MacInnis fan and Providence Cooks! regular.