Since Winter is once more upon us, and Since that means colddddddd weather, and Since Soup is Good Food….
And a pot of soup made on Sunday is lunch and quick supper through the week. Or freezer fodder, to be mined and microwaved at nearly a moment’s notice.
Norma Wasserman-Miller Soups of Italy. William Morrow and Co 1998. I’ve had my copy since 2000.
130 soup recipes, each with a story…and sooo many happy endings
Soup for the year round, but I spend the most time with this book in the Winter
Above all else, soup remains una cucina di casa, “a cuisine of the home.” Indeed, it was the homes and kitchens of so many gracious Italian friends and professional cooks that inspired the recipes and techniques for this book. The numerous recipes I came across had a notable lack of measurements and a heavy reliance on the words in stagione, “in season.” Perhaps this is what I love most about Italian soup cookery – a reliance on simple, good ingredients along with the inventiveness to effortlessly turn them into flavorful soups with character and individuality.
Itroduzione, p. 3.
Here are the component parts of the soup story:
Battuto – often soffritto – that is the aromatic/ soffritto just means ‘fried’. There are 3 universal solvents – one of them is oil – onions, garlic, celery, fennel, carrots, peppers, even parsley heated in some oil, smells good, tastes, good, this is the base
Sapori – the main ingredients, the big taste.
Brodo – the liquid – don’t overlook water as a broth ; broth, meat or veg -Water is the second universal solvent…alcohol is the third, so a little wine can boost everything else up
Condimenti – the things added at the end, but also the garnishes and accompaniments – fresh herbs, slices of bread, freshly grated cheese; a dash of vinegar, balsamic or otherwise, or a squeeze of citrus liven things up nicely … also, the things you often add to the bowl and not the pot.
But the lentil soup I made on this first weekend of the New Year, was from somewhere else, but follows the Soups of Italy game plan.
Lentil Soup with Sausage and Tomato
3 Tbl olive oil
1# fresh Italian sausage, either sweet or hot
2 celery ribs
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves
2 Quarts low sodium broth (I used 2 boxes of the chicken broth with wine and herbs. You can also use homemade broth, just add a slug of wine (say 4-8 ounces)
1 28 oz can diced plum tomatoes (or whole, and then break them up)
2 C lentils – pick through them and rinse them
1 Tbl Dijon mustard
½ C chopped fresh parsley (the bunches in the grocery store have been all over the place this winter – I’ve had some bunches that were big enough to be a bride’s bouquet and others closer to boutonnière size – flat or curly, cook’s choice, and save the stems for soup stock)
- Heat 1 Tbl of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. When it shimmers, add the sausages and cook them until they are brown all over, 7-10 minutes.
- Mince the onion; peel and chop the carrots and chop the celery – you can include the leaves.
- Remove sausages to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
- Add the remaining 2 Tbl of oil to the pot and then the chopped onion, carrot, celery. Add the bay leaves and ½ tsp salt.
- Stir frequently, until it is all light golden and fragrant.
- Mince the garlic (I confess, I use a press) and add to the pot, stirring for about 30 seconds.
- Add the broth (wine if you’re using), the canned tomatoes (squeeze the whole ones through your fingers so they don’t turn into little red rubber balls bobbing along in the soup, and the juice of the tomatoes), and the rinsed lentils to the pot.
- Add 1 tsp salt and pepper (this salt is to season the lentils – if you are not using a low sodium broth you can skip this step)
- Increase heat and bring to a boil. When boiling, cover and reduce heat for a simmer.
- Simmer for 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
- Meanwhile, cut the sausages into ½ inch thick slices.
- When the lentils are tender, remove and discard the bay leaves.
- Stir in the Dijon mustard, add the sausage slices and cook until the sausage is heated thoroughly, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped parsley, adjust seasoning, and serve.
Adapted from Stand-Up Soups, Adam Reid in the Boston Globe Magazine, 2-2-2014, p. 22, which was adapted from New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Drucker and Clara Silverstein.