A couple weeks back, in the depths of the coldest winter ever, my mother-in-law shared yet another recipe with me that I’ve fallen in love with.  POWER SOUP.  It’s yummy and it kicks ass inside your body.  The original recipe was in the weekend paper (cute) and with a couple tweaks it’s become a regular in my kitchen.  In fact, James said, “You can make this all the time.”  To which I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes.  Some of you may be so over soup by this time of year and all, “Yay! Pedicures and iced coffee and ponies and ice cream,” but in the Northeast it’s still chilly enough to be cranky, so soup is still on the kitchen table.


In a large stockpot or dutch oven sauté 1 chopped onion, 2-3 minced garlic cloves and a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes in olive oil over medium heat. Stir in 1 cup farro (or quinoa if you are gluten-free) and 1 can white beans (Cannellini or Navy), drained and rinsed. Add about 6 cups of chicken broth, half of a peeled and cubed butternut squash (about 2 cups, 1-inch pieces) and 1 can whole peeled tomatoes with the juices, tearing into pieces as you add. Note: if you’re using quinoa make your squash cubes a little smaller so they cook at the same rate as the grain.

To season this soup, the recipe calls for a parmesan cheese rind.  If you have hard cheese leftover from a dinner party (like parmesan, gruyere or beemster), whack off the rind and add it to the soup for a major flavor upgrade.  If you don’t live a life that leaves you with delicious gourmet cheese just lying around you can add a few tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese to taste.  No biggie.  Similarly, the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, which I absolutely NEVER have on hand.  You can substitute 1 teaspoon dried thyme or use a little oregano or parsley which will change the flavor only slightly from the original recipe. Then, if you’re like me, add, “Being the kind of person who has fancy cheese and fresh herbs on deck at all times,” to the heap of unrealistic life aspirations.  Then add salt.

Sim-simmah (simmer) for about 30 minutes, until your farro is cooked and the squash is fork-tender. If you’re using quinoa, adjust the cooking time accordingly (about 20 minutes).  Stir in 3 cups coarsely chopped/torn kale, stiff ribs removed and simmer another couple minutes.  You can also substitute spinach, you just won’t be as bad ass.

That’s it! Discard your cheese rind and serve up your Power Soup with a little extra grated cheese or a drizzle of olive oil. You will instantly feel better about everything and rule the world. (If you’re interested in the specific reasons that this soup is so good for you, see the notes below.)

Loveyoubye! Maggie


Ingredient Checklist:

  • 1 chopped yellow onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup farro (or quinoa)
  • 1 can white beans
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • parmesan cheese rind or grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped kale

Health notes:

  • Farro – an unprocessed wheat berry high in fiber, protein and B vitamins
  • White Beans – a legume high in fiber, protein, B vitamins, phosphorus, copper, magnesium and iron
  • Butternut Squash – a winter squash high in fiber, Vitamin A and C and beta-carotene
  • Canned Tomatoes – a vine fruit high in Vitamin C, beta-carotene and the antioxidant lycopene
  • Kale – a cruciferous vegetable high in fiber, Vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotene and calcium