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*July 2010 COTM - ITALIAN EASY: Soups

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Our July cookbooks are ITALIAN EASY and ITALIAN TWO EASY, by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers.

Please use this thread to discuss recipes from the following chapters:

Italian Easy: Soups

Italian Two Easy: Really Easy Soups

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  1. Tomato, chickpea, sage Italian 2 Easy pg 104

    When I first picked up this book, I opened it to this page, and based on the simple and readily available ingredients, chose to make it. Plus, it was a coolish night and so suitable for soup. However, I'm not really sure why this recipe is in the soup section, because there just ain't no liquid in it.

    Anyway, this recipe starts with soaking dried chickpeas, but I used a can because apparently I lack the ability to think ahead....so I started with the step of covering the soaked chicks with water and adding two stalks of celery and letting it simmer until tender. Quibble number one: it doesn't say what to do with the 2 stalks of celery...add them whole? Chop them? I went for the latter. When they are tender, you drain them and reserve. Then garlic and sage are fried together in EVOO, chopped tinned tomatoes are added, along with the chickpeas and the whole is simmered for 20 minutes. Hard to simmer something with no liquid, so I added the juices from the canned tomatoes.

    Then the mixture is pulsed in a food processor, but not pureed. The recipe says it should be "very thick." Back into the pot it goes. Then cooked, drained, and tossed with more EVOO (doesn't say how much) ditaloni is added to the soup. One is to serve with more EVOO stirred into each portion.

    All along here I am thinking to myself "how can this be soup with no liquid?" In the georgous picture it looks like there is liquid.....I guess that's just the olive oil. But I wanted soup, and so I added about 1 1/4 cup chicken stock.

    I served this with homemade french-style bread and I'm glad I did. The soup was just meh. Mr. Clam ate barely one third of his bowl (but two thirds of the bread). Chowpup said it was "weird." Her friend smothered hers with ketchup and declared it "allright."

    6 Replies
    1. re: clamscasino

      Oh no, I had my eye on this, although, ironically, I just wanted it for the flavor combo. I don't really like soup. So, it seems like this would have worked for me, but I'm not sure what the point it if it's just meh and weird.

      ~TDQ

      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Yeah, I wanted it for the flavor combo too. Unfortunately it came out rather flavorless. Neither the sage nor the garlic came through. The end note to the recipe says that this dish was to show off a particular olive oil, so perhaps that's the key. Lots of really good olive oil.

      2. re: clamscasino

        I noticed just looking at the photos that the soups look very thick and a bit dense, without much liquid - almost more like stews.

        1. re: clamscasino

          Hi Clams... I was just reading through the soup chapter and noticed that as Caitlin said all the recipes seem to be thick stews rather than brothy soups. IIRC growing up in a thoroughly Italian household and extended family, that type of soup was called Minestrone and more hearty than a Brodo or broth based soup, for example. Minestrone is simply a thick vegetable soup sometimes with pasta or rice.. You were wise to serve bread with the soup. I would have also grated Pecorino Romano over each serving and added freshly ground black pepper as well.

          1. re: Gio

            Hi Gio....I did actually serve it withe Pecorino Romano. But without the added stock, it was more like glop than stew.....pasty glop. I wouldn't have minded the texture so much except that it was well, rather flavorless. If there were to be a next time for this (and there won't) I would add in a chopped onion, more garlic, more sage and some parsley.

            I do love minestrone though. It was the first type of homemade soup I ever made, and in 1975 it was a revelation of flavors, especially in the waspy, white, western burbs of Boston. I still have that recipe, which I got, from of all places, Co-ed Magazine.

          2. re: clamscasino

            Your reports often make me laugh - this one did too. However, I'm sorry to hear this was just eh. The pictures of the soups had me scratching my head a bit ... they look like they're sort of missing the whole "soup" thing. Still, some sound delicious. But I guess not this one!

          3. Rice Chestnut Soup, p. 120 Italian Two Easy

            I've never contributed to the COTM threads, but I wanted to mention that I made this soup last night and thought it was fantastic. As has been mentioned, these soups are soup in the Italian sense--minestra, I guess----very hearty stew-like dishes with little liquid. (We ate this with a fork last night).

            I had a (very, very, very--we are talking years and years here) old jar of chestnuts to use up, and had the other ingredients in the house (I used bacon instead of pancetta), so tried it last night. I used only about half the amount of chestnuts specified, though.

            The only issue I have was that I could not find the amount of servings specified on for any of the recipes in this book. (This fed two of us for a hearty dinner, although I probably ate more than I should have--it was SO good!)

            I will definitely make this dish again. It is supremely easy and the mix of flavors and textures make it a winner.

            10 Replies
            1. re: erica

              Hey Erica, I'm so glad you posted about this. Sounds delicious and perfect for the season. I wonder if I can do it with wild rice?

              At the bottom of page 7, they say all recipes are for four, unless otherwise mentioned, and that cakes and tarts are for eight to ten. The more the merrier with COTM, so, please do keep cooking and posting!

              ~TDQ

              1. re: erica

                Erica: It's so nice that you reported on this soup. It sounds perfect for this time of year. I love chestnuts but completely overlooked this recipe. Thanks for drawing attention to it. Hope you'll continue to report...

                TDQ: I think it will be delicious with wild rice. A good combo with the chestnuts. I'd add a little more broth, though.

                1. re: Gio

                  I wonder if anyone happens to have this recipe, from Italian Two Easy, on hand. I would like to make it tomorrow and have already returned the book to the library. Many thanks if you would give me the basics....

                  1. re: erica

                    Rice Chestnut Soup...Erica here's a paraphrase of the recipe from the book...

                    In the forward to the book it states that all the recipes within serve 4 unless otherwise stated: Bottom of page 7.

                    Chestnuts - 1 lb. - Or 28 oz jarred or canned

                    Borlotti beans - 14 oz.

                    Pancetta slices - 4 oz.

                    Rosemary sprig - 1

                    Boullion cube - 1

                    Boiling water - 2 cups

                    Parmigiano - 2 1/2 oz.

                    Unsalted butter - 2 Tbsp

                    Risotto rice - 1/4 cup

                    Milk - 7 fl. oz.

                    Drain & rinse beans. Slice pancetta matchsticks. Mince rosemary. Disolve boullion cube. Grate cheese.

                    In a saucepan heat butter, add pancetta & rosemary, cook 10 minutes. Stir in chestnuts and cook a couple of minutes. Stir in rice after a few seconds slowly pour in the boullion. When the rice begins to "plump up" add the milk. Cook this for 20 minutes or till the chestnuts and rice are soft. Now add the beans, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Add more milk if you think the soup is too thick. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano...

                    This is a perfect time of year for this soup.. In fact I'd use turkey broth instead of boullion. But that's just me.

                    ETA: I like the packaged, peeled and roasted chestnuts that Trader Joe's sells. Recommended by JoanN.

                    1. re: Gio

                      Gio: You have prompted me to use this word in print for the first time: AWESOME!

                      Many thanks!

                      I just bought a jar of the chestnuts at a local cheese shop Ideal, (in NYC); good to know TJs has them.

                      You have made me curious as to why you would substitute the turkey broth--for flavor, or do you mean fresh turkey broth instead of canned/boxed boullion? What is the general flavor difference between turkey and chicken broth?

                      1. re: erica

                        You're welcome, Erica. I'd use home made turkey broth because it's The Season. Also, I think turkey broth has a much richer flavor than chicken. Especially if the bones are roasted before making the broth/stock. Michael Ruhlman has a terrific recipe for turkey gravy but you roast wings and drumsticks first then make the broth...absolutely the tastiest roast/broth/gravy ever. I have to sample the result of each step, of course...
                        http://ruhlman.com/2008/11/thanksgivi...

                        1. re: Gio

                          That is a very good tip. I hate to admit that I rarely make my own stock. Well, actually I've made my own (chicken) stock exactly once. You have shined light on my shame and made me realize how easy it would be...I do not make turkey, though, so I imagine I would have to buy fresh turkey parts to make it......

                          1. re: erica

                            Actually, if you don't cook turkey chicken stock is very easy. You just need a couple pounds of chicken parts, or even a whole chicken. Slice a carrot or 2 a celery rib, quarter a large onion, a few peppercorns.. Put all in a large pot, cover with water by 2 or 3 inches. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 2 or 4 hours. When done let the meat & veggies cool in the stock for a bit. Separate meat and veggies, discarding the vegetables since they've given up their, and refrigerate of freeze til needed. flavor. Some folks discard the chicken too but I can't bring myself to do that so I chop it up for chicken salad.

                            I make stock every week in a slow cooker over Saturday night. On Sunday morning it cools down and refrigerated. I don't add any salt so that I can control the seasoning in whatever I'm using the stock for.

                            1. re: Gio

                              Thanks Gio! Your posts are always very helpful.

                              1. re: erica

                                Hah.... if you can decipher my typing. I'm the world's worst... Thanks, though.