Hudson-based food pro Colu Henry shares a spring stew recipe with hearty chicken and farro from her cookbook, Colu Cooks: Easy Fancy Food.
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Like many soups and stews, this recipe is forgiving and can change with the seasons. I first made it when I was craving spring vegetables and there was still a chill in the air. It’s a perfect vehicle to use whatever vegetables are lurking about in your fridge. Here, nutty farro is slightly toasted and simmered in chicken broth along with chicken thighs and spring vegetables, which are added in at the end until just snappy, making for a quick-to-come-together supper. Feel free to swap an onion for a leek; chard, arugula, or kale for spinach; and use whatever other vegetables you have that need using up. It will all be more than fine, I promise. Serve in deep bowls with bread and wine.
It’s Almost Spring Stew With Chicken and Farro
Recipe from Colu Cooks: Easy Fancy Food
½ Meyer lemon, seeded and finely chopped, peel and all
3 Tbsp roughly chopped or torn fresh mint
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large leek, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, tough outer leaves and stems discarded, thinly sliced crosswise
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup farro, rinsed
6 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
12 oz. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5 cups loosely packed baby spinach or other tender greens
8 oz. snap peas, strings removed
Flaky salt, for serving (optional)
In a small bowl, stir together the lemon and mint and set aside.
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, fennel, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, 4–5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1–2 minutes more. Season with salt and black pepper.
Stir in the farro and cook until it begins to toast and smell nutty, 2–3 minutes. Pour in the stock, add the chicken, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the chicken has cooked through and is no longer pink, 10–12 minutes, skimming off any bits of foam that float to the surface. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a cutting board. When cool enough to touch, shred into bite-size pieces and set aside.
Continue simmering the soup until the farro is toothsome, about 20 minutes more. Add the chicken, spinach, and the snap peas to the pot and cook until the spinach is just wilted and the peas still have some snap, 1–2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt as needed.
Ladle into bowls and top with the Meyer lemon-mint mixture. Drizzle with more olive oil and season with flaky salt if you like.
Related: Hot Chicken Biscuits