Tag Archives: soup

Because the scale never lies: Farro and Legumes Soup

Farro and legume soup

Farro and legume soup

4 Servings

Hello everyone!

The Holiday season is behind us but our Christmas tree is still up and some of Santa’s presents (unwrapped) are still laying under the tree – mostly because they are so ugly I’m not quite sure what to do with them! 😜

Anyway, this year Santa decided to surprise me with something totally unexpected. Something you cannot really unwrap but you can see, feel and touch, something that makes your clothes feel tighter and tighter as the day goes by.

A magical gift? Not really! I’m rather talking about 5 pounds of sneaky and vicious fat spread out all over my body!

With my parents over for Christmas, I wholeheartedly embraced the holiday spirit by practically eating non-stop and using any excuse that came to mind to ask Stefano to pop a bottle of bubbly. Considering that my body is not exactly in its twenties and my metabolism gets slower as we speak, it was only a question of time before I was called before my judgmental scale to answer for my culinary and drinking sins!

Facing the scale… what a painful experience! Are you familiar with the feeling? I wake up in the morning and lay in bed for a few minutes staring at the ceiling, without moving a muscle, realizing that I’ll have to face reality sooner or later. I know that I just have to find
the courage to step up on that unfriendly machine that I keep hidden in my closet hoping that that malefic hand – never sympathetic, let alone merciful – won’t confirm what my puffier face and my tight clothes have been whispering to me for days now.

Farro and legume soup

Farro and legume soup

Finally, after a couple of days of me being “food cautious”, that decisive day arrives: I step onto that thing with my eyes closed, I take a big breath, I open my eyes and my face involuntarily assumes a horrific expression! It’s even worse than I thought. My emotional
reaction? A bit of depression mixed up with a delusional determination that I’m going to lose those unwanted guests in a couple of weeks. After all, it took me only a month to gain my extra pounds. It’s going to take me much shorter to shed them! I wish, but deep inside I fear I’m totally delusional about that!

And then the “cutting out campaign” begins. It’s time to decide which kind of food is bound to remain on the shelf. I open my imaginary pantry and I start looking. First, the sweets department. No, nothing to cut out there. I don’t have a sweet tooth and I very rarely eat sweets. Relief. I then move my eyes towards the fruit and vegetable department: thank goodness, I don’t have anything to cut out there either. Even more relief. I know this is going to be my best bet and pretty much the only department I will allow myself to access for weeks to come! So I linger in there, pampering myself, with the only aim of procrastinating a painful decision. There won’t be any more relief coming my way. I can see my next department – the carbohydrate department – with the corner of my eye and all my favorite food calling my name for the last time. It is time for me to kiss bread, pizza and pasta goodbye – at least for a while. My heart is bleeding and my tastebuds are getting depressed already. 🙁

To make a long story short, I’m in the middle of soup season. Not those light, watery soups that you usually have as an appetizer and that – after an hour – you feel like they have never been in your tummy. I’m rather talking about those rich, thick and satisfying soups that make you feel full from the end of your dinner until the time you go to bed. I think the soup in this post fits the bill beautifully.

I love legumes for their well-known nutrition benefits and they are perfect for dinner on a freezing winter night. I made this soup for the first time about a year ago (actually the photos that you see here date back to that night 🙂 ) and I found myself making it again during that big snowstorm that hit the East Coast last weekend.

Will this soup do the magic helping me losing weight? Only time will tell! In the meantime, here is the recipe!

Farro and legume soup

Farro and legume soup

Ingredients:

1 Cup, chickpeas
1 Cup, white beans
1 Cup, lentils
1/2 Cup, farro
1 Tbsp, baking soda
1/4 Cup, chopped onions
1/4 Cup chopped celery
1/4 Cup chopped carrots
3 Tbsp, extravirgin olive oil
7/8 Cups, vegetable stock
Some leaves of sage
2 rosemary sprigs
Ground black pepper
Salt

Directions:

Farro and legume soup

Farro and legume soup

Put the white beans, the chickpeas and the baking soda into a bowl. Soak the beans and the chickpeas overnight in cold water.

The day after, in a non-stick medium/large pot, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil, add the carrots, the celery, the onion and 1/4 Cup of water and sauté on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the water has completely evaporated.

Drain the chickpeas and the beans and add them to the vegetables. Add the lentils, 5 Cups of stock, some salt and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat.

Cook on a medium/high heat for about 35/40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding some of the remaining stock little by little.

Reduce the heat, add the farro and keep cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding the rest of the stock. Taste the soup to check if it is necessary to add some salt.

Wash the sage leaves and the rosemary sprigs under running water thoroughly and dry them with paper towel. Strip the needles off the rosemary sprigs and chop them roughly.

Place the soup into serving bowls or plates, pour a bit of olive oil on top and garnish the soup with some sage leaves and chopped rosemary needles.

I’ll look at my calendar to pick a date for my next hypothetical “encounter” with the scale. Let’s try to think positive. Maybe this time, my enemy will show me some mercy! 😉

Stay warm!

F. xo

Going against the "season trend": Cremini Mushroom Soup for TDPC

Mushroom soup

Mushroom soup

The Dinner Party Collective’s Winter Menu is finally out and it looks amazing!

At the beginning of this social roller-coaster, I asked our lovely Chief Editor Margot to be given a chance to play my first food round in the opposite hemisphere. Margot and Sandra graciously allowed me to join them and I “won” the appetizer.

After a few email consultations with my co-conspirators, a mushroom soup got two thumbs up. So I did what I usually do when cooking time comes: I took out my magic wand and… bibbidi bobbidi boo… I had a lovely mushroom soup!

No, not really! 😉 You see, this time my magic wand had to work a little bit harder because… ok, here is the ugly truth: I do not like mushrooms! Oops!

But, don’t you love a challenge? I do! Especially when it calls for ingredients that I don’t like (but let’s no go there because the list is quite long!) I love the way this soup turned out: it’s well-balanced, creamy and full of flavors. It is a great appetizer and I ended up making it for Stefano already a few times.

If I could do it, you… yes you… I’m sure you love mushrooms… you can do it too and your dinner party will be off to a perfect start. If you feel inspired, you can find the recipe on The Dinner Party Collective’s blog.

Stay tuned for a wonderful first course by Sandra and a delicious and gorgeous dessert by Margot – plus Stefano’s wine pairing suggestions of course! 😉

Have a great week!

Francesca Xx

Mushroom soup

Mushroom soup

When conversations get surreal: potato and saffron soup with pancetta croutons

Potato, saffron and pancetta soup

A couple of days ago Stefano was getting ready to go to work and he told me that I must have done something wrong with the laundry because his pants felt tighter.

Now, you can tell me anything (because any human being is entitled to their opinion!), you can even offend me but you cannot, and I underline “cannot”, tell me that I did something wrong with my laundry!!!

I modestly like to think of myself as the “Pavlova of the Laundry”! 😉 Let’s not even talk about the time it took me to find just the right detergents that would satisfy me. I can spend hours in the detergent and cleaners aisle and every time I see a new product I get pretty much as excited as when I see a designer’s new collection!

Let’s talk about the process: every stain is pre-treated, loads are divided by fabric and color, every washer cycle is carefully selected, the dryer is reluctantly used (we do not use dryers in Italy and I wouldn’t dream of putting an item that I bought in my country in the dryer – it simply wouldn’t survive) and everything gets ironed. Yes! Everything including sheets, towels, underwear and socks. That’s how Italian houses roll (or should roll) and mine is no exception. 😉

Potato, saffron and pancetta soup

Now you see what I mean when I say that there can’t possibly be anything wrong with my laundry? The ugly truth? Stefano has put some weight on and he is in total denial!

And what do you do when someone is in denial? Desperate times call for desperate measures! I cut all the fatty dishes out and I declared soup season open! Soups are fantastic and when you want to lose some weight, they really can do magic. They are low on calories yet healthy, very satisfying to your stomach and, above all, delicious!

Last night Stefano was particularly famished, so I decided to make some potato soup with a twist. I played with some saffron and the result was fantastic. The saffron really complements the potatoes and the pancetta croutons are really the cherry on the cake! 🙂

So that’s how I did it! 😉

Ingredients:

6 Potatoes, cut into cubes
1/4 Cup, extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 Cup, chopped pancetta
1/3 Cup, finely chopped spring onion
2 Cups, vegetable stock
1 and 1/2 Sachet, powdered saffron
2 Tbsp, Mascarpone cheese
1 Cup, Milk
Salt
Ground white pepper

Directions:

Potato, saffron and pancetta soupIn a non-stick medium/large pot, heat 1/3 cup of olive oil, add the pancetta and fry, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta gets golden and crispy.
Remove the pancetta from the pot and place it on some paper towel so it can lose the excess oil.

In the same olive oil where you fried the pancetta, place the spring onion and cook until it softens. Add the potatoes, the stock, some salt and white pepper (to taste) and toss to coat. Cook, stirring often, for about 20 minutes. Eventually, the potatoes will turn kind of mushy and the stock will almost completely evaporate. Add 1 sachet of saffron and toss to coat until the mixture gets a vibrant yellow color.

Transfer the soup to a food processor or a blender. Add the mascarpone, the rest of the olive oil and the milk and blend until it is smooth and creamy.

Return the soup to the pot and, on low heat, cook for a few minutes, stirring often.

Pour the soup into two serving bowls or plates, add some fried pancetta on top and garnish with some powdered saffron.

Will Stefano manage to lose some weight? Only time will tell! 😉

There are witches in the air: purple cauliflower soup

Purple cauliflower soup

2 Servings

Looking at Her Majesty’s Halloween menu, I had the impression that something was missing. What was it? We had the bats and the skeleton and the ghost … so? But some witches of course!

Purple cauliflower soupOver the last few days, I have been thinking about a dish which would be reminiscent of witches and when I saw a purple cauliflower at the grocery store, the idea struck me like a thunder. Isn’t purple a typical witch color? How about a purple soup to be served after the bat eyes and before the skeleton stake? 🙂

I decided to use very few ingredients – kind of a basic soup recipe, because I didn’t want the color of the other ingredients to alter the purple color of the cauliflower. And since witches are always a little bit sinister, I thought that a touch of yellow was a must, beside contrasting nicely with the deep purple (no, not the band…). So I sprinkled some olive oil and added some lemon strips on top of the soup. I was very pleased to find out how beautifully the citrus flavor contrasts with that of the cauliflower.

Purple cauliflower soupHer Majesty was so excited by the purple color that for the first time ever she ate some soup without making any fuss. Actually, I couldn’t believe my eyes! 🙂 And I’m pretty sure that if you serve this dish for a dinner party, your guests will be really surprised and amazed at the same time. 🙂

Ingredients:

1 shallot, chopped
2 Tbsp, extravirgin olive oil
2 potatoes, diced
1 purple cauliflower
1 1/2 Cups, vegetable stock
1 lemon
Salt
Ground white pepper

Directions:

Wash the cauliflower and cut the florets off. Set them aside.

In a medium/large pot, place 1 Tbsp of olive oil, the shallot and a couple of tablespoons of water and cook, on low heat, until the shallot softens.

Purple cauliflower soupAdd the cauliflower florets, the potatoes, some salt and pepper (to taste) and the vegetable stock and toss to coat. Cook, stirring often, for about 20/25 minutes. Eventually, the florets and the potatoes will turn kind of mushy and the stock will almost completely evaporate.

In the meantime, using a citrus zester, cut some strips out of the lemon peel. Set them aside.

Transfer the soup to a food processor or a blender and blend until it is smooth and creamy.

Return the soup to the pot and, on a very low heat, cook for a few minutes, stirring often.

Pour the soup into two serving bowls or plates and add some olive oil and lemon strips on top of each.

We wish you all a super fun and sweet Halloween!

Francesca Xx

Warming up: Broccoli soup

Broccoli soup

2 Servings 

Here we are again! Thanksgiving is just a couple of weeks away and there are so many things to do if you have the blessing/curse to wear the hostess’s apron! 😉

As most of you may know, Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Italy, so we do not have a traditional menu. All our Thanksgiving “knowledge” comes from reading books and magazines as well as partaking in a few Thanksgiving dinners we have been invited to over the past years.

This year, Stefano and I will have a good number of guests over and nobody in the party, but her majesty and the daughter of another couple, was born in this country. Needless to say, each of us is trying to bring to the table their own ideas of what an American Thanksgiving dinner should look like with, of course, a twist from their own country. 😉 So far, all we have been able to agree upon is that there will be the gobble, gobble bird, some mashed potatoes and some Brussels sprouts. 🙂

Broccoli soupSince I’m the hostess, I have already announced to the guests that the appetizers will be 100% Italian (sorry, but I had to draw the line somewhere… unless any of you tells me that there is a must-have American appetizer that can’t be missed 🙂 ) and the appetizers will be followed by a soup.

The broccoli soup I’m sharing with you today might just do the trick. This soup is a no-brainer and anyone can make it. It’s good, healthy and is the perfect candidate for every night of the cold and long winter we have ahead of us! We’ll see if this soup makes it all the way to our Thanksgiving table – it is facing competition from the pumpkin soup, the recipe for which I published a while ago (if you are interested, you can check it out on this post)… 🙂

Ingredients:

12 oz, broccoli florets
4 potatoes
1/3 cup, chopped onion
1 ½ Tbsp, butter
1 ½ Tbsp, flour
3 cups, beef stock
1/4 cup, grated Parmigiano cheese
1 Tbsp, extravirgin olive oil
Salt
Ground black pepper

Directions:

Cut the potatoes off into bits.

In a non-stick large pot, put the butter and the onion and cook until the onion softens.

Add the broccoli florets, the potato bits, some salt and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat.

Add the flour and toss to coat.

Add the stock and keep cooking, stirring often, for about 30 minutes. Eventually, the broccoli and the potatoes will turn mushy and the stock will almost completely evaporate.

Transfer the soup to a food processor and blend until it is smooth and creamy.

Return the soup to the pot and, on low heat, cook for a few minutes, stirring often.

Pour the soup into two servings, pour some olive oil on top of each, season with black pepper and finish it up by dusting the plate with some grated parmigiano.

Broccoli soup

PS: We like everything about Thanksgiving: its meaning, the fact that it is a family holiday, its traditions. Of course, we cannot say that it brings up childhood memories for me or Stefano, but her majesty has been blessed with being a citizen of two wonderful countries and we are trying to raise her according to both traditions. So, we have decided to go the whole nine yards with this year’s Thanksgiving celebration. Therefore, if you feel like suggesting a decoration, a dish or a drink that should definitely be on our table that day, we are all ears! 🙂

Pumpkin Soup

2 Servings

Orange all over the place! Halloween decorations, mums, outdoor wreaths and… leaves. Oh boy!

This morning, they were all over my yard and this thing irks me immensely! I’m a sort of perfectionism freak and all my surroundings (house, office, desks, kitchen counter) must be neat and perfectly organized. Do you remember the cleanliness-obsessed Monica from Friends? I’m exactly like her.

The point is that, in my ideal world, my yard would look as neat as my kitchen floor. If I could, I would vacuum my yard every day! Instead, I go out to rake and pick up countless leaves sweating like a piglet, and for what? The day after, even more leaves are happily lying on my yard telling me loud and clear: mother nature sent us and she is way stronger than all your obsessions!

So, since there is no way I can fight mother nature, I decided to give up and embrace the orange color by making a pumpkin soup.

After all, if you can’t beat them, join them! Or was it bite them?…  🙂

Ingredients:

1 leek
1 Tbsp salted butter
1 ½ Tbsp extravirgin olive oil
18 oz (about 4 cups) freshly diced pumpkin  (about ¾ inch in size)
13 oz (about 2 cups) diced potatoes (about ¾ inch in size)
2 cups vegetable stock
¼ cup grated parmigiano cheese
salt
ground black pepper

Directions:

Cut off the green top of the leek and the roots. Discard the outer layer. Cut the leek in half lengthwise. Rinse the two halves well under water, being careful to leave them intact. Place each half, with the flat side facing down, on a chopping board.

Slice the two halves of the leek thinly and evenly with your knife so that you end up with thin strips.

In a medium/large pot, melt the butter. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and the leek strips and toss to coat. Add 1 ladle of vegetable stock and stir often until the strips soften.

Add the pumpkin, the potatoes, some salt (to taste) and the rest of the vegetable stock and toss to coat. Cook, stirring often, for about 25/30 minutes. Eventually, the pumpkin and the potatoes will turn kind of mushy and the stock will almost completely evaporate.

Transfer the soup to a food processor or a blender and blend until it is smooth and creamy.

Return the soup to the pot and, on low heat, cook for a few minutes, stirring often.

Pour the soup into two serving bowls or plates, with a swift circular motion, pour ¾ Tsp of olive oil on top of each, season with black pepper and finish it up by spreading one or two pinches of grated parmigiano.

This soup would be perfect for a Thanksgiving dinner and goes beautifully with croutons. By the way, do you want to know how to make your own croutons? I would be glad to help you! Just let me know by leaving a comment below.