The theme of our recent cooking class was “Cooking with Whole Grains” and we featured recipes that contained healthy carbohydrates, like farro and pilaf, which are perfect for the cooler fall and winter days ahead.

Many people seem to be avoiding carbs these days, but whole grains are carbs that are good for you, providing healthy fiber, nutrients and phytonutrients. Whole grains also help with good gut function and reduce inflammation. The best whole grains to use when cooking are those made with the whole grain, or entire seed of the plant and include quinoa, brown rice, farro, kasha and barley.


  • 1 small head garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup farro
  • 6 ½ cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 15-ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 15-ounce can drained and rinsed chickpeas
  • 3 cups chopped lacinato kale leaves, stems removed
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Peel off outermost layers of the papery skin on the garlic, but leave head intact. Cut off ¼ inch from bottom of the garlic head, exposing the ends of some of the cloves. Place cut side up on a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and wrap up in the foil. Roast for 40 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze garlic out of the papery skin, finely chop the roasted cloves or press through a garlic press.

While the garlic is roasting, bring the farro and 2½ cups vegetable broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until broth is absorbed and farro is chewy, but slightly underdone.

In a large stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add onion. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Stir in roasted garlic and tomato paste.

Add diced tomatoes, cooked farro, 4 remaining cups of broth, bay leaf, oregano and parsley. Bring to a simmer and stir.

Add chickpeas and kale and allow to gently simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until kale has wilted and soup is hot.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with shredded cheese if desired.

Source of recipe: Deborah Murphy, MS, RD