Toasted Spelt Soup with Escarole and White Beans

This toasted spelt soup with escarole and white beans was inspired by the classic Italian pasta and bean stew. Unlike macaroni, the grains stay nice and chewy, even when reheated days later.


  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, cored, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 3 oz. pancetta, cut into ¼” pieces
  • 1 cup spelt
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • ¾ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ head escarole, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1  15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • Shaved Parmesan (for serving)


  1. Semi-pearled farro or wheat berries instructions
  2. Pulse onion in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with fennel, carrot, and celery, placing vegetables in bowl with onion.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large pot. Add pancetta and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add spelt and cook, stirring often, until grains are a couple of shades darker, about 3 minutes. 
  4. Add onion, fennel, carrot, celery, and garlic to pot; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 6–8 minutes. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes, and cook until paste is slightly darkened, about 1 minute.
  5. Add broth to pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until spelt is tender, 60–70 minutes. Stir escarole and beans into soup and cook until escarole is wilted and beans are warmed though, about 4 minutes.
  6. Serve soup drizzled with oil and topped with Parmesan.
  7. Do Ahead: Soup can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill