Friday, 13 February 2015

Old School, Old Country, Comfort Food

Minestra di Ceci, Scarola & Peperone
Chickpea, Escarole & Red Pepper Soup

Well, wasn't I glad that I put a few leaves of escarole aside when I cooked it earlier in the week, when I got home this evening and wondering what on EARTH to make for supper! The fridge, what with it being a Friday, was almost bare!

And although it was Friday the 13th on top of that, I was determined to make the day end on a pleasant note!


A simple soup, all cooked together in one pot and taking care of itself- that is what we all love the most in the Wintertime. Especially after a long day and a cold walk home... just the smallest amount of preparation and the highest amount of comfort 40 minutes later- that's what this dish was about.


1 can of chickpeas, 1 carrot, 1 stalk of celery, 1 shallot, 1 red pepper, a couple of handfuls of chopped escarole (9-10 leaves), dried oregano, fresh parsley... that was all it took to make 2 good, hearty bowls of soup!


With a hint of bitterness from the greens, this broth is flavorful and perfect with the sweet pepper, carrot, celery and shallot. The oregano adds a little tangy touch, olive oil makes it unctuous and cracked pepper seals the deal. This is peasant food from back home- and it's fit for a king over here in the big city!


Have some old bread lying around? Good! Those poor people back home would have too- and they would not let it go to waste either! Toast it up and have something to dip whilst you enjoy- so that you enjoy it even more!


Chop the vegetables up finely and cut the greens down into bite-sized pieces too- they will of course wilt considerably once cooked, but remember you want those pieces to fit into your spoon easily and not dangle around all over the place!


The good news with this dish starts right here! Put all of the fresh ingredients into a saucepan at the same time, add a drizzle of olive oil, a good pinch of salt, about 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, a little pepper, stir them through and let them sweat down, with the lid on, for 3-4 minutes.


Add the chickpeas along with the juices from the can, top up with enough boiling water to cover everything, then reduce to a gentle simmer and let the soup bubble away for the next 30 minutes.


After that time, all of the vegetables will be nice and tender and they will have flavored the broth wonderfully. Take a little taste to see if you need to add any more salt or pepper, add a good pinch of finely chopped parsley- and you're ready to serve!


A last drizzle of olive oil and a little more freshly ground pepper is always a good thing- and it makes this soup, which is a good thing in itself, just that little bit better.


You see- there is never really a problem about what to make for supper- you can always come up with something- and you can always make that something GOOD.


You want real, Italian food? Well, it might look a little something like this- it's not all sauces and richness- it is often down-to-earth and all the more downright delicious for it!

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