Heat the olive oil in a soup pot set over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and herbs and sauté until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
If using dried beans, add the soaked, drained beans to the soup pot, with the tomatoes, broth or water, and 2 tsp. salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, 1 to 2 hours. (If using canned beans, drain and rinse them, add the tomatoes, broth or water, and 2 tsp. salt to the soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the beans, and simmer for about 20 minutes.) Season with salt and pepper. For a creamier soup, purée 1 cup of the bean mixture and stir it back into the pot.
While the soup simmers, bring 6 cups salted water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the farro, reduce the heat, and simmer until it's just al dente and chewy, about 10 to 30 minutes. Drain, add it to the soup, and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes to let the flavors meld and to finish cooking. Stir to prevent scorching. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a swirl of olive oil, grated cheese, and pepper.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on eight servings, Calories
12, Fat Calories
110, Saturated Fat
16, Monounsaturated Fat
43, Polyunsaturated Fat
Photo: Mark Thomas