Bean and Wheatberry Stew

This stew will be prettiest (in my opinion) if you use a white bean like cannellini or navy, but there is no reason to run out and buy anything special to prepare it. Use whatever is on hand in your pantry. Wheatberries can be found in health food stores and co-ops. Farro or spelt are good options as well.

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 slices of bacon, chopped

1 cup wheatberries

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 carrot, coarsely chopped

1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press

2 cups diced tomatoes (or 1 [15-ounce] can diced tomatoes, including liquid from can)

½–1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (the heat level is up to you)

1½ quarts chicken broth or vegetable stock

2 packed cups chopped Swiss chard

2 cups cooked white beans (see page 20 cooking tips)

Parmesan cheese, for serving

Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and bacon and cook, stirring until bacon is browned and crisp. Remove bacon from pot, leaving fat behind. Add wheatberries and toast until just a little darker.

Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to pot and reduce heat to medium. Cook until vegetables are softened, 6–8 minutes. Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes.

Add broth to pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until wheatberries are tender, 60 to 90 minutes.

Stir reserved bacon, Swiss chard, and beans into pot, and cook until chard is wilted and the beans are hot. Add a little water if the contents of the pot are thicker than stew-like. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into soup bowls and give each serving a generous glug of olive oil and a sprinkling of freshly shaved Parmesan.