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Soups are delicious and comforting any time of year, but especially the colder months. They require minimal effort to make, they are hearty and comforting, and they make the best leftovers! How could you be disappointed with any of that?
If you are interested in an easy-to-make, high protein soup recipe that will leave you satisfied for several meals to come, then this beef and farro stew is for you!
Importance of Protein
Protein is a vital nutrient that makes up our body’s tissues, enzymes, antibodies, and hormones. It is essential for health and important to keep the muscles strong.
But as we age, our bodies require more protein than the average adult in order to preserve muscle mass, keep immunity strong, and support all other physiological processes. You can learn more about protein requirements for older adults at The Geriatric Dietitian blog.
A good rule of thumb is to aim for around 30 grams of protein per meal. However, the main goal of this plan is to spread out protein intake throughout the day in order to best optimize protein utilization in the body.
Incorporating dishes like a high protein soup is an excellent way to ensure adequate protein intake. A 1 1/2 cup serving of this beef and farro high protein soup is jam packed with protein from good food sources!
The protein in this stew comes from the most obvious contender (the beef), but also from the hearty grain, farro.
What is Farro?
Farro* is an ancient grain, well loved for its chewy texture and nutty flavor. The grain is actually an original form of wheat, though it is not as common depending on cuisine or region.
As far as grains go, farro is at the top of the list for protein. A ¼ cup serving of cooked farro contains about 6 grams of protein! But of course, farro, like all other grains, is also a great source of dietary fiber, and many vitamins and minerals.
When cooking farro, more water is generally needed than when cooking other grains. A 2:1 ratio of water to farro is usually a good start, but package instructions can also be useful in determining the correct liquid amount.
Don’t have any farro, or can’t find it at the store? No problem! You can substitute farro with:
- Wild rice
Just be careful to correct for liquid requirements and cooking times for each grain. This is less of an issue when cooking soup since we have extra liquid any ways.
Adding More Veggies
All this talk about beef and grains is great for a high protein soup, but what if I told you this beef and farro stew is also a great way to sneak in some extra veggies?
As written, this stew calls for a good amount of fresh spinach. But, you can also use kale, chard, or other tough and stalky greens. Cooking these greens in a soup is a great way to make them more palatable.
Just chop up the stems with the leaves and toss them in as you would the spinach. However, they often require more cooking time to soften and become more enjoyable.
If greens aren’t your thing, have no fear! You can swap (or add in) almost any other vegetable you like. Some great veggie options for this stew are:
- Butternut Squash
- Sweet Potato
Just be warned that root veggies require more time to cook and will likely need to be added into the stew before or alongside the farro, with a bit more liquid.
Instant Pot or No Instant Pot?
Before you get to making this beef and farro stew, let’s discuss pressure cooking. An Instant Pot* is the brand name for a commercial home pressure cooker. And it is a handy tool for making all sorts of dishes, like soups and stews.
Pressure cooking is a fantastic way to speed up the cooking process. This happens because the device is able to capture steam, which builds pressure in the chamber. The high pressure helps to increase the boiling point of liquid in the device, as well as to force liquid into the food. Both effects speed up cooking time.
Just be warned, pressure cooking can be intimidating for first timers, as all the built up steam will have to be released after the cooking time has been met. But don’t worry, all devices will come with user instructions to ease the intimidation.
There are several types and brands of pressure cookers on the market that can be used for this high protein soup. The Instant Pot* is a widely available and fancy option that can sauté and pressure cook in the same device, making it useful for this high protein soup.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can still make this soup! In place of sautéing in the Instant Pot, a large skillet will work just as well. And a large stock pot can be used for the rest of the recipe. However, note that cooking times will likely be longer for the steps that would otherwise be shortened by the pressure cooking process.
Beef and Farro High Protein Soup
Let’s get to the recipe! Below are the instructions to make this delicious, comforting soup.
If you are looking for other high protein recipes, be sure to check out our High Protein Mac and Cheese and High Protein Muffins.
Beef and Farro High Protein Soup
- Instant Pot
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pound beef stew meat cut into 1-inch pieces
- 8 cups low sodium beef broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup farro quick cooking
- 1 cup celery diced
- 1 cup leeks thinly sliced
- 2 cups spinach
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shredded
- Set Instant pot to sauté function.
- Once hot, add olive oil.
- Once oil is heated, add the beef to the pot.
- Cook for 2 minutes without stirring.
- Stir and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until pieces are browned all over.
- Add broth, bay leaf, whole garlic cloves, rosemary sprig, paprika, and salt to the instant pot.
- Stir and make sure to scrape the bottom of the instant pot to release any browned bits.
- Push the cancel button on the Instant Pot and set to High pressure for 2 minutes. Securely fasten the lid on the Instant Pot making sure the valve is closed.
- When the time is complete, carefully release the steam (move valve to “venting”) and remove the lid.
- Push the cancel button and set to sauté.
- Add farro, celery and leeks and cook at a rolling boil until farro is cooked through; about 12-15 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf and garlic cloves.
- Stir in spinach and serve in bowls.
- Garnish with parmesan cheese.