Posts Tagged ‘soup’

Cucina povera – a peasant soup of beans and greens

October 22, 2009

Cicoria e Fagioli

I cook simple food: rustic, hearty, unadorned, unprocessed, from simple robust ingredients.  The food of peasants.  Cucina povera.   It’s frugal, delicious, healthy, Here is one of my favourite recipes – for curly endive and cannellini bean soup.

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It’s so easy, frugal, quick, delicious.  Dinner in 10 minutes!  The recipe I use is from one of my favourite cookbooks The Food of Italy by Claudia Roden and from one of my favourite regions in Italy – the Abruzzi (where the recent devastating earthquake was), where we spent a few days in 1993.   Pescasseroli, where we stayed, was magical: snow and scoiattoli (squirrels) and cent erbe and cream puffs at the Hotel Pinguino

Here is Antonio Carluccio’s recipe  (which is very similar to Claudia Roden’s), sourced from here which I have adapted

200g (7 oz) dried cannellini beans, or 1 x 425g (15 oz) can cannellini beans
1/2 bunch curly endive, washed and root end removed
6 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 small dried red chillies, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the dried beans to soak for 12 hours or more in a large bowl (they increase in size). Drain them and boil until done in fresh unsalted water. Salt at the end of the cooking time. If using canned beans drain them from their liquid and save the liquid to add to the soup. Wash the endive and cut it up into short lengths (about an inch long).

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, fry the garlic without browning, and then add the endive and chillies. Keeping the heat high, stir-fry for a minute or two, coating the endive with the oil, then add the drained cannellini beans, half of the liquid from the can, some salt and water to cover.  Bring to the boil, cover the saucepan (I don’t cover mine – the colour keeps better if the soup isn’t covered) and reduce the heat. Simmer until the endive is tender.

Toast some stale bread (preferably Italian) and put a slice in each soup bowl.  ladle over the soup over the bread, swirl some olive oil on top and serve with grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.

I’m eating leftovers for lunch as I type…

For John and Maggy – soup and brownie cake

June 2, 2008

Hospitality is not one of my gifts. For various reasons related to my childhood and personality, I am not comfortable “entertaining” people in our home. But I am good at encouraging people, and I have been challenged to get out of my comfort zone with regard to extending hospitality to friends and to-be friends.

But – I can cook. I love cooking for my family and I do regard it as one of my gifts. If I could, I would bless John and Maggy Dobbs with some soup and my rich brownie flat cake.

I got this recipe from epicurious, one of my favourite recipe sources. It’s an intense flavoured soup (don’t leave out the anchovies and rosemary – they make the soup), but with a freshness and lightness that belies the fact this is a complete meal in a bowl. It conjures memories of a dinner in Monteriggioni on a cold night in ’93 (even though I have no memory of what we ate that night).

Bean and Swiss Chard (silverbeet) Soup
from: Soup: A Way of Life | November 1998
Barbara Kafka

Clearly this is an Italian soup. Biete is Swiss chard, usually green, although I have a fondness for the drama and beefy taste of the red-stemmed kind.
Servings: Makes about 5 cups (1.25 litres); 4 first-course servings.

1/2 pound (225 g) Swiss chard (silverbeet) or kale, trimmed ( I remove the thick white stalks)
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus additional to taste
2 flat anchovy fillets
1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves or dried
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil (I use much less)
2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled (I mince them finely)
1 cup (225 g) cooked small white beans or drained and rinsed canned beans (chick peas are good too!)
4 cups (1 liter) chicken stock [or Garlic Broth for a meatless soup]
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup (60 g) small shell macaroni (I use Orgran rice and corn fusilli)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
In a medium saucepan, cook the chard with 1/2 cup (125 ml) water and the salt over medium heat until tender. Drain the chard, reserving any liquid that remains. Coarsely chop the chard. (I don’t bother cooking the chard – I just add it raw)

Very finely chop anchovies together with the rosemary.

In a medium saucepan, stir together the oil and garlic over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is pale gold. Stir in the anchovies and rosemary. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Stir in the chard and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to thoroughly coat it with the oil. Stir in the beans. Cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in the reserved cooking liquid and the stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and stir in the macaroni. Boil for 6 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Pass Parmesan cheese at the table.

For dessert, I would serve rich brownie flat cake. I make this at least once a month. The recipe is apparently from Good Living in the Sydney Morning Herald. My friend Fiona gave it to me a couple of years ago, and it’s now the cake I bake most. It makes dessert when served with berries and cream or mascarpone.

Rich Brownie Flat Cake
125g butter
100g dark chocolate
3/4 cup sugar (I use castor – superfine to you North Americans)
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain flour (I use spelt or pharoah flour as I am wheat-free)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

Melt butter and chocolate (I do this in the microwave). Cool.
Whisk sugar and eggs, stir into cooled chocolate mixture with the vanilla.
Stir in sieved flour and nuts.
Bake for 30 minutes in 170C (325-350F) oven in a 21cm lined round pan.

And I have been praying about a song for John and Maggy. I have been praying for them with most songs I have heard or sung the last week or so. But this is the one I offer them today. And tomorrow. And the next day. We sang it at “church” last night.  It’s one we sing often. This is a good version. I couldn’t find a Hillsong version on youtube, except a subtitled one. But this one should have you singing.

Love Wendy