Naked in the Temple of Doom

I walked all the way from my car to the front doorstep without my coat last Wednesday evening, an auspicious beginning to book club night.  Trees blooming, twilight still lingering sweetly, it seemed the very essence of spring.  Still breezy of course, and chilly enough that it was good to come inside, where a measure of gossip, a glass of wine and a hot meal were waiting. 

The book was The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story, by Diane Ackerman.  A more depressing book comes along only rarely, and yet there was plenty of laughter throughout the evening.  The prize for clever malapropisms (or perhaps it would more rightly be considered an eggcorn ), went to Cindy’s reference to a previous book club book, which she rechristened Naked in the Temple of Doom–naturally, we all knew what she was talking about, and didn’t skip a beat conversationally.

We often have food at book club that reflects the locale in which the book was set.  I am glad to say, however, that this time we did not have a meal typical of Nazi occupied Warsaw during World War II. 

Mechele provided a sumptuous feast.  The centerpiece was her Chicken Sausage and Farro Soup.  Rich and thick, this soup balanced the earthiness of farro and sweet potatoes with the brightness of lemon and curry.  A tabouli salad, pitas, and tzatziki sauce rounded out the meal nicely.

When asked about the provenance of her soup recipe, Mechele said she had adapted it from a recipe she found online, substituting sweet potatoes for squash.   

I love all things farro, and this soup is no exception.  It is the perfect antidote when March winds run an icy finger up the spine. 

Mechele’s Chicken Sausage & Farro Soup

(adapted from Butternut Squash, Farro & Sausage Soup at

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 spicy chicken sausages
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 ½ cups farro
  • 6 cups chicken stock (may need an additional cup)
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach or other leafy green
  • salt to taste

Set a large pot over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the olive oil and brown the sausages. When browned, add the sweet potatoes, farro, chicken stock, pepper and curry powder. Let it come to a rapid simmer, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the farro is tender.

Add the lemon juice and spinach and add extra water if the farro has soaked up too much liquid. Taste and add salt if needed.

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