by Ippolita Douglas Scotti:
I won't spend time telling you how cold and rainy it is in Firenze (Florence) or talk about how busy it is during the holidays. I'm just going to get to the point: zuppa! That's right—it's soup time!
Here are three of my favorite go-to recipes, guaranteed to warm you up!
Pasta e ceci
One of my favorite home-cooked dishes, chickpeas and pasta is a hearty soup perfect for winter or cooler days. There are many ways to prepare it in every region of Italy. As you can see, pasta e ceci is easy, quick, and cheap, but the taste is very rich. It is a complete food because the nutritional values of legumes plus that of the wheat used to make the pasta make a complete frame of the essential enzymes for the body.
11 oz (300 g) of short pasta, like ditalini
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 cans of chickpeas
4 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
Rosemary and Sage, minced
Salt and Pepper
In a large pot, heat the chickpeas with the herbs and the garlic.
Cook the pasta in another pot, drain it, and save two cups of the boiled water of the pasta.
Mix pasta with the chickpeas and add the water. Simmer gently and serve, drizzling with oil.
Leek and Potato Soup
During the chilly Florentine nights, it is so nice to warm your hands with a bowl of soup. This quick and flavorful soup will warm your belly and your heart. It is also a very healthy food, perfect for babies and older people.
4 medium leeks, thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups vegetable stock
4 spoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh cracked Black Pepper
In a soup pot, sauté the leeks and potatoes without browning them. Add the stock, cover with a lid, and simmer for about 20 minutes until vegetables are softened.
With a regular or immersion blender, puree the soup to the consistency you like and add the minced chives. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve it with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some chunks of roasted country bread.
Spezzatino con Patate
(Stew with potatoes)
This hearty and delicious rich dish has to be stewed in a blend of broth and wine until it softens and becomes succulent. Perfect for a slow cooker!
The spezzatino is a fantastic traditional recipe to transform cheap cuts of meat into a gourmet dish. My favorite first bite? The potatoes!
Ingredients for meat broth: Ingredients for stew:
1 carrot 11 oz (300 g) each, onion, carrot, celery, chopped
1 stalk of celery 14 oz (400 g) beef, cubed
1 onion 1/2 glass red wine
Cheap cut of Beef with bone in 2 Tbs. tomato paste
Bay leaf 3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Rosemary 5 medium-sized potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt Parsley, bay leaf, rosemary, sage
Prepare a meat broth by placing meat/bone, carrot, onion, celery, and bay leaf in a saucepan. Cover with cold water and cook over low heat for one hour. Ten minutes before turning off, add a dash of salt. Strain broth and keep warm.
In a large pot, over a high flame, brown the cubes of beef. Don't crowd the pan.
Once browned on all sides, add chopped onion, carrot, and celery.
Add red wine and let it evaporate.
Add two ladles of broth, potatoes, and 2 Tbs. tomato paste.
Cover with a lid and cook over low heat for 2 hours or until the potatoes and meat are soft.
Correct flavor with salt, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve.