The chickpeas are cooked with bay leaves and then puréed to add body to the soup, while the farro (also known as emmer wheat) adds a satisfying chewiness.
It takes a little planning ahead if you’re going to use dried chickpeas—and I recommend you do; they taste dramatically better than canned—but believe me, it’s totally worth it for 49 cents.
This particular recipe is adapted from Paula Wolfert’s “Mediterranean Grains & Greens,” which, though it’s almost 13 years old, is still an amazing source for creative and healthy preparations of more obscure ingredients; kind of like the Moosewood books, but with meat.
It makes an extremely generous 4 servings.
3/4 cup dried chickpeas (about 3 oz.), soaked overnight: 27 cents
3/4 cup dried farro (about 4 oz.), soaked overnight: 44 cents
2 bay leaves: 8 cents
3 T olive oil: 15 cents
1/2 an onion, chopped: 10 cents
1 T chopped prosciutto: 33 cents
1 T minced celery: 2 cents
4 cups chicken stock (use your best-tasting stock if you have it, or, if you’re not budget-conscious, buy a decent boxed brand; I had to resort to Better Than Bouillon): 24 cents
1/2 tsp dried marjoram: 8 cents
Generous pinch of nutmeg: 2 cents
Salt & pepper: 1 cent
Parsley for garnish (garden): $0
Slices from one of the homemade boules you see here (ignore the smaller, misshapen one, stunted by my tiny 3 1/2-quart dutch oven), toasted: 22 cents
GRAND TOTAL: $1.74 + .22 = $1.96/4: 49 cents/serving
Soak the farro and chickpeas (separately) overnight. Put the drained chickpeas in a saucepan, add enough water to cover by about 3 inches, add the bay leaves and a generous pinch of salt, bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, until chickpeas are soft, about an hour and a half.
Meanwhile, add the oil to another heated saucepan and cook the celery, prosciutto and onions until soft. Add the farro, chicken stock, marjoram and nutmeg and simmer until the farro is tender, about an hour.
Drain the chickpeas when they’re one, reserving the cooking liquid, and add the peas to a food processor with about 1 cup of the liquid. Purée, adding more liquid if necessary to produce a perfectly smooth texture (I had to use about a cup and a half). Stir the puree into the pot with the farro. Season to taste; let sit for 10 minutes to cohere.
Serve with chopped parsley.