Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Feeling Grateful? Make Soup

Thrifty cooks make soup. And Italian cooks are notoriously thrifty. Not that they would ever compromise on quality. Still--they can make a lot out of a little--gnocchi from potatoes and water, Panzanella from stale bread.

Capri Flavors Chef Titna never wastes in her kitchen. If she's dredging in flour, she uses all the flour, all the bread crumbs, every speck of chopped parsley. Nothing is thrown away.

A lot of this thriftiness dates from WWII and the terrible shortages in Italy. (You can read more about Costanzo's war time experiences in this weeks upcoming Capri Flavors e-newsletter).

Hunger was everywhere in Southern Italy during the war. And even all these years later, Titina and husband Costanzo always feel a special gratefulness when they sit down to a nice meal.

This week they are feeling even more grateful because Titina is cooking at home. She is still very limited after her hip-replacement surgery but feeling well enough to do the thing she loves most--make wonderful food.

Here's one of those wonderful dishes--Titina's recipe for Pasta and Bean soup. It's super easy, very nutritious and a great way to make just 4oz of meat go a long, long way.

Pasta e Fagioli
Pasta with Beans

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 oz chopped Negroni pancetta
1 medium carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large glove garlic, minced
1 can “Annalisapomodorini di collina (cherry tomatoes) 400 grams
1 can “D’Amicofagioli cannellini (white beans) 400 grams
2 cups plain water
1 cup ditali pasta
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
salt and chili pepper

Serves 4; Preparation Time:10 minutes: Cooking Time: 25 minutes; Level of Difficulty: Simple

Set a 3-quart (3 liter) soup kettle over medium heat and add the extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking add the chopped pancetta and let it cook for 3 minutes. Add the diced carrots and celery as well as the minced garlic. Add the tomatoes. Cook for 15 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Add the beans and the water, bring the soup to a gentle simmer and add the pasta, cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Season with salt and chili pepper to taste. At this point the pasta is “al dente,” sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve immediately.

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