“Early in my cooking career, I worked under a female head chef, which was an anomaly at the time. To this day I have no idea why, but we were all terrified of her. Rumours flew: She had worked at a fancy restaurant in Toronto! She was going to fire a lot of people! She ate her steak blue! To be fair, this all did end up being mostly true, but she also became one of the most inspiring chefs, both then and now, I know. Chef René introduced me to so many new ingredients and techniques and gave me a real education on creating flavour and composing dishes. This dish [brothy farro with mushrooms and tofu], a combination of farro, mushrooms and tofu, is a riff on one of hers from almost 20 years ago. Like all good dishes (and good chefs), it has stood the test of time.” –Christine Flynn, proprietor of Good Earth Food and Wine Co. in Niagara, Ont. She is also executive chef and partner at iQ Food Co., a restaurant group with multiple locations in Toronto.
Mushroom Soup With Tofu and Farro
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots minced
- 1½ cups farro
- 2 tsp salt more to taste
- 12 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock warm
- 1 small handful fresh thyme sprigs tied into a bundle
- ¼ pound (115 g) shiitake mushrooms caps only, thinly sliced
- 1 pound (450 g) soft tofu cubed or torn into chunks
- cracked black pepper
- 6 cups baby spinach
- walnut oil for drizzling
- Place the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring so that they do not brown, until just barely translucent. Add the farro and toast it for 3 to 4 minutes until the colour deepens and it smells a bit nutty, stirring all the while so nothing burns. Add the salt, stir briefly, then add the warm stock and thyme. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 20 minutes, until the farro is just starting to get tender. Remove the lid and continue simmering, uncovered, for another 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the mushrooms, tofu and spinach. Stir to combine. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes, until the mushrooms and tofu are warmed through and the spinach is wilted. Add salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
- Ladle the stock mixture into bowls and serve with a drizzle of walnut oil.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.