From the Kitchen of Engrid Winslow
Maybe you have figured out by now that I have a long-standing love affair with all things Italian? No, well then, here I am giving you a trio of Italian soups. The first one hails from Emelia Romagna and the next is from Umbria followed by a traditional Tuscan bean soup. By the way, a great source for traditional Italian foods of all types, including beans, check out www.Gustiamo.com. If you prefer to stay in the USA, www.ranchogordo.com is also a wonderful source for heirloom beans and grains. Both websites have wonderful recipes as well. All of the recipes serve 4-6 people with some leftovers.
Sausage and Lentil Soup
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1 large carrot, peeled
- 3 Tbsp of Tomato Paste
- 1/3 Cup Chicken stock or water
- 850 grams (1 large can) whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 cups lentils (the tiny Italian ones, called Lenticchini, are preferred)
- 1 lb. sweet Italian Sausage
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Cooking the Lentils:
Wash the lentils in a strainer. In a large pot (big enough to hold cooked lentils, sausage and sauce), cover the lentils with 1.5 inches or 2 fingers worth of water. Cook the lentils over medium-high heat until the water boils and then decrease flame to low and cover the lentils. Stir occasionally and add more water as needed until the lentils are soft ((about 45 min). Add salt and pepper to taste.
Make the “Soffritto”:
Grate the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Add olive oil to a deep frying pan (big enough to hold the vegetables and sausage) and place over medium-low heat. Add the grated vegetables to the frying pan and let reduce, occasionally stirring until soft (10-15 min).
Combine the Ingredients:
While the soffritto is developing, remove the casing from the sausage and mash flat using the back of a spoon or your hands. Once the vegetables have turned a golden hue and the onions are translucent, add the mashed sausage. Once the sausage has browned add the tomato paste, 1/3 cup of water or stock and stir. Puree the whole peeled tomatoes and, after the sausage mixture has cooked for ten minutes, pour in the tomatoes and stir. Allow it to simmer for 25 min, covered on medium-low heat. Add the lentils and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Umbrian Farro Soup
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 3/4 cup chopped celery, medium chop
- 3/4 cup chopped carrot
- 2 minced cloves garlic2 1/2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
- 21/2 cups tomato sauce (canned or homemade)
- 3 cups cooked farro, cooked al dente
- 1 quart beef stock (use vegetable stock if desired for vegetarian version
- Sauté the onions, celery, and carrots until translucent.
- Heat 1 cup of the beef stock and add the porcini to reconstitute.
- Use an immersion blender or food processor to blend about 3/4 of the vegetables, the garlic, 1 cup of the cooked farro, and all of the porcini and liquid until smooth.
- Add back to the pot and add the remaining farro, vegetables and stock. Add 2 1/2 cups of tomato sauce. Season and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and parmegiano reggiano (optional)
Tuscan Bean Soup with Squash and Kale
- 1 finely chopped carrot
- 1 stick finely chopped celery
- 1 small finely chopped onion
- 1 14 ounce can (400 grams) of cooked Borlotti (cranberry) beans (you can also use cannellini beans or chickpeas)
- 1 cup of pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and diced
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 small bunch of cavolo nero (Also known as Dinosaur or Tuscan) kale (you could use Swiss chard, beet greens, collards or spinach instead)
- 4 cups of water or vegetable stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Gently cook the carrot, celery and onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil and a good pinch of salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on low heat. Let the vegetables sweat, not color, for about 10 minutes or until softened. Add the borlotti beans with about a cup of water (enough to cover) and bring to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes. Blend about half of the mixture to a smooth paste and return to the pot.
In the meantime, prepare the cavolo nero kale by slicing out the long, central stalk of the leaves and discarding and chop just the leaves roughly.
Add the pumpkin, potatoes and cavolo nero (if using silverbeet or spinach hold onto it until a few minutes towards the end of cooking) and top with enough water or stock to cover (up to 4 cups or 1 liter) and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered, over an active simmer so that the liquid reduces slightly and the vegetables are tender. Adjust seasoning.
Serve with a good grinding of black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and toasted bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil.