I created this recipe after tasting green gazpacho soup for the first time last month. (more…)
Taranta Restaurant in Boston’s North End is unique. It serves a combination of Italian and Peruvian cuisine following the ethnicity of chef/owner Jose Duarte.
Here’s a recipe I got when I was shooting Dorm Room Chef videos for the Boston Globe. It’s delicious and very healthy.
Watch the video to get the recipe. It’s only 2 1/2 minutes long and the recipe is pretty easy to make. I also wrote the recipe below.
I’ve made it dozens of times and plan to make it again soon, now that the weather in this part of the country is getting colder.
Giant Peruvian Lima Bean Soup From Taranta Restaurant
- Giant Peruvian lima beans (About 1 1/2 cups). I couldn’t find anything labeled “Peruvian lima beans” at the supermarket so I just bought the largest ones there.
- Water (About 1 1/2 cups)
- Chicken stock (About 3 or 4 cups)
- Garlic, chopped (A few cloves)
- Celery, chopped (About 1/2 cup)
- Carrots, chopped (About 1/2 cup)
- Potato, diced (About 1/2 cup)
- Extra-virgin olive oil (3 or 4 tablespoons)
- Egg (1 large egg per serving)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Step 1 Add the lima beans, the water, and enough chicken stock to completely cover the beans (about 1 1/2 cups) to a crockpot and cook for about 6 hours.
- Step 2 Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add the celery, garlic, carrots, and potatoes and cook until tender (about 3-5 minutes).
- Step 3 Add the lima beans and the remaining chicken stock to this pot and cook until nearly boiling.
- Step 4 Add one egg at a time and stir gently to cook the egg. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Step 5 Serve each portion of soup with one egg. Pour a little olive oil over the top of each serving too.
(Above: This soup is great all year, but much appreciated on a snowy day.)
This is soup season. And with more than two feet of snow dropping in the Boston area in less than 12 hours, we’re in the thick of it.
What better soup is there to help weather the storm than stracciatella, sometimes referred to as Roman Egg Drop soup? My mother used to make a version of this.
Here’s a quick recipe for Spinach Stracciatella Soup (Serve with grated parmesan cheese on the side.):
To make homemade chicken soup, I usually buy a roasting chicken and cook it for dinner one night and then after a day or so (when most of the meat has been picked off clean), I use it to make the chicken broth.
- Chicken broth (About 8-10 cups. Use your favorite. Homemade is easy and economical. See recipe below.)
- Pasta for the soup (I like cheese or meat tortellini for this soup, but you can use any short pasta such as bow ties or fusilli.)
- Chopped fresh spinach or a 10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained)
- Eggs (2 large, beaten)
- Parmesan cheese (About one cup, grated. Please, use the imported. Or at least freshly grated Romano or Pecorino. The stuff you buy in a jar in the supermarket isn’t cheese. It’s more like plastic.)
- Step 1 To make homemade chicken soup: Drop the carcass into a large soup pot. If it’s a tall pot, cover it with about four inches of water. If it’s a wide pot, cover it with about 2 inches of water. Add a carrot, a celery stick, maybe an onion, some salt and pepper. Boil it for an hour or more. Take out the carcass and strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a large plastic container. Put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning skim off the fat. You can now use the broth as you see fit.
- Step 2 Bring the broth to a slow boil. Drop in the tortellini (or short pasta of your choice) and cook until nearly done. Then drop in the frozen spinach and about 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.
- Step 3 Cook until spinach and tortellini are done and the broth is just simmering.
- Step 4 Stir soup and slowly pour in the beaten egg in a continuous stream. Continue stirring until the egg is cooked.
- Step 5 Add salt and pepper as needed.
There are some foods I make every year around Christmastime. They are tried and true classics that continue to make taste buds happy year after year. And each year, I also try some new recipes. Some stick and become a classic, others fade away either because they didn’t deliver on their promise or simply because of neglect: like a broken doll on the Island of Misfit Toys in the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” TV special.
Here are a list of winning recipes. Most I make every year. But there are a few neglected misfits too that are worthy of a new chance in a New Year. We’ll start with the desserts because this time of year is so sweet:
1.) Pane alla Cioccolata (Chocolate Bread): This lightly sweetened bread is great with a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine. You can spread cream cheese over it, but Mascarpone cheese is better.
2.) Chocolate Bark (Christmas Gift): The only thing that would be easier than making this sweet treat would be going out and buying it.
3.) Cenci (Florentine Rags): Cenci are a deep-fried Florentine winter treat, made from Epiphany to Mardi Gras.
4.) Christmas Befana Cookies: My grandmother, Bruna, made these Befana cookies every Christmas.
5.) Chocolate Kahlua Rum Balls: Another quick and easy treat to make. Makes a good gift too.
6.) Ribollita Soup: One of the most loved recipes in the RootsLiving collection. Who knew, Tuscan Bean Soup, would be such a crowd pleaser?
7.) Asian Shrimp Salad: Trish found this recipe in an old cookbook a previous tenant left in her apartment about 30 years ago. It has become a traditional Christmas Day appetizer.
8.) Nan’s Mashed Potatoes (with Cream Cheese and Sour Cream): No Christmas Roast Beast would be complete without a side dish of this. It puts the “comfort” in comfort food.
11.) Pizza: Cheese and Fig & Proscuitto (from Figs Restaurant): My grandmother made pizza every Christmas Eve. This recipe is a combination of her pizza, Julia Child’s pizza, and Todd English’s pizza.
12.) Breakfast for Dinner: Gingerbread Pancakes: In these last, short, dark days of December sometimes it’s nice to stay in your pajamas all day and have breakfast for dinner. Here’s a suggestion in keeping with the holiday spirit.
(Above: Nice is a fun city that does a great job of blending the old and the new.)
Nice is in Southern France, near the Italian border, and so the cuisine there is a mixture of Italian and French. On our first visit we ate well and were able to pick up some great recipes: some that blend both cuisines and some that take classics and make them new.
Three of these recipes we got from our favorite restaurant there, La Zucca Magica: a vegetarian restaurant with dishes so rich, no one missed the meat. Unfortunately, that restaurant has closed but I still have very fond memories of one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
Meal Plan: Mostly Vegetarian
When we got back, we had several dinner parties, including one with this meal plan:
First course: Cantaloupe Gazpacho With Crispy Prosciutto. (Recreated from Le Comptoir in Nice)
Second course: Tomato Stuffed With Pasta Salad. (From La Zucca Magica in Nice)
Third course: Chard Stuffed with Risotto and Mozzarella. (From La Zucca Magica in Nice)
If you want to have a completely vegetarian dinner, you can either omit the prosciutto in the first course or you can serve this dish instead: Patata Ball in Tomato Sauce (just substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth in this recipe). (From La Zucca Magica in Nice)
And for dessert you could serve this tried-and-true classic that has been enjoyed in Provence for many generations: La Tourte De Blettes.(From a recipe card purchased in the market in St. Remy.)
(Above: My recreation of a sweet and savory soup I was served in Nice.)
Our trip to southern France last week was inspiring, causing me to want to recreate several memorable meals we had in Nice.
This recipe was inspired by lunch at Le Comptoir where I was served a cold, gazpacho soup made from cantaloupe.
Cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto is often served as an appetizer but I’ve often thought it a bit clumsy to eat. You either have to pick it up with your fingers or use a fork and knife to cut through the slippery meat.
This recipe blends the two complementary flavors together and delivers the sweet, savory blend easily to your mouth via a soup spoon.
Cantaloupe Gazpacho With Crispy Prosciutto
- Cantaloupe (1 very large melon, or 2 small ones, peeled and cubed)
- Water (1/2 cup)
- Shallots (1 tablespoon, minced)
- Lemon juice (2 tablespoons)
- Sherry cooking wine/vinegar (1 teaspoon)
- Salt (preferably Kosher, 1/2 teaspoon)
- Prosciutto (1/4 pound, thinly sliced)
- Olive oil (2 teaspoons)
- Fresh mint (4 teaspoons, chopped)
- Black pepper (1/4 teaspoon)
- Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (one for each bowl of soup).
- Step 1 Place first six ingredients in a blender and process until smooth (don’t overdo it). You’ll need to do this in batches. Place in freezer to chill while prosciutto cooks.
- Step 2 Heal olive oil in a frying pan and cook prosciutto strips until crispy (about 5 minutes). Turn over as necessary. Drain on paper towels.
- Step 3 Ladle soup into bowls. Place sun-dried tomato in center. Place four strips of prosciutto coming out of the tomato like the rays of the sun. Sprinkle a little mint and pepper over the top of the soup. Serve cold.
Try this one for your New Years Eve dinner party.
The recipe is from Morrison’s of Portland, Maine. The restaurant was featured on the Food Network where the Deen brothers declared they made the best lobster stew they ever tasted.
This recipe couldn’t be any easier to make. I made it Christmas Eve with lobsters I purchased at Market Basket. I even had them steam them for me so all I had to do was crack open the shells and take out the meat.
Best Lobster Stew, Ever
- Lobster meat (1 pound or figure about 2 or 3 pound-and-a-quarter lobsters.)
- Butter (1 stick)
- Paprika (1 tablespoon)
- White Pepper (just a dash)
- Heavy Cream (2 cups)
- Evaporated Mile (2 cups)
- Whole Milk (2 cups)
- Sugar (just a pinch)
- Step 1 Melt butter in a pan large enough to hold 6 cups+ of liquid.
- Step 2 Cut up the lobster meat (saving some good-looking claw meat to add as a garnish to each bowl) and add it to the butter.
- Step 3 Add paprika and pepper.
- Step 4 Cook the lobster meat in the butter for 8-10 minutes. You want to let the flavor of the lobster escape into the butter.
- Step 5 Add the three milks and a pinch of sugar.
- Step 6 Heat it up, but DON’T LET IT BOIL. Serve in bowls with a choice piece of lobster meat for a garnish. Eat with crusty bread.
Gnocchi di pollo e patata sounds so much better than chicken and potato gnocchi. But they both taste the same: light, savory, elegant.
This recipe, from the classic Italian cookbook from 1894 The Art of Eating Well, by Pellegrino Artusi, makes many gnocchis so it’s great to make and freeze. And then when you crave gnocchi, you’ll always have it on hand.
Gnocchi Di Pollo E Patata Soup
- For the broth:
- A whole chicken (1)
- Celery Stalk (1, split in half)
- Carrot (1 whole, peeled and cut in half)
- Salt/Pepper (to taste)
- For the gnocchi:
- Mealy potatoes, peeled, boiled and pressed through a ricer or strainer (1/2 pound)
- Small chicken breast, boiled and minced (Use one from the chicken you used to make the broth).
- Parmesan cheese (3/4 of a cup)
- Egg yolks (2)
- Salt (to taste)
- Nutmeg (a pinch)
- Flour (3-4 tablespoons)
- Step 1 To make the broth: Put a whole chicken in a large pot and cover with cold water.
- Step 2 Add celery and carrot, and salt and pepper.
- Step 3 Bring to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer for an hour or more.
- Step 4 Remove chicken. Pour broth through strainer into a large plastic container and refrigerate over night.
- Step 5 The next day, take the fat off the top of the broth with a soup spoon.
- Step 6 To make the gnocchi: Mix all of the ingredients, except the flour, together well.
- Step 7 Work the flour into the mixture to bind it.
- Step 8 Roll the mixture on a floured surface into a snake, the diameter of your little finger.
- Step 9 Cut the snake into 1-inch lengths. Put what you don’t use into a large freezer bag and put in a freezer for later use.
- Step 10 Simmer the gnocchi in the broth. They are very delicate and may fall apart. Don’t be too concerned as when they fall apart, they flavor the broth.
Also known as “Tuscan Bean Soup,” this is a real crowd pleaser. I’ve tripled this recipe and fed nearly 50 people with it at our annual Christmas open house party.
I got this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa, but incorporated a few short cuts so you can make this in about 1 1/2 hours. Using a food processor to chop all of the vegetables also helps make the work go faster.
The taste is sweet and a little sour with a punch of heat from the crushed red pepper flakes. It’s a great, hearty soup on a cold winter night.
- 1 large can of cannellini beans (about 19 oz.)
- 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for serving
- 1/4 pound diced pancetta
- 2 cups chopped onions (about 2 onions)
- 1 cup chopped carrots (about 3 carrots)
- 1 cup chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon salt (I always use Kosher as it’s the most flavorful.)
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (28 oz.) can Italian plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
- 4 cups coarsely chopped kale
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 4 cups sourdough bread cubes, crusts removed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (preferably the imported Parmesan Reggiano), for serving
- Step 1 Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot.
- Step 2 Add the pancetta and onions. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. (Stir occasionally)
- Step 3 Add the carrots, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. (Stir occasionally)
- Step 4 Add the tomatoes with the puree, the kale, and basil. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. (Stir occasionally)
- Step 5 Rinse the cannellini beans under cold water. Puree half of them in a food processor with about 1/2 cup of water.
- Step 6 Add pureed beans to the soup. And then add the remaining half of the whole beans. And stir.
- Step 7 Add the eight cups of chicken stock.
- Step 8 Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
- Step 9 Add the bread cubes to the soup and simmer another 10 minutes.
- Step 10 Serve hot in large bowls. Sprinkle a little freshly grated parmesan cheese on top. And then drizzle a little olive oil over it.
I’ve always loved vichyssoise soup (served warm) and decided one day to build on that. The result is this soup.
This is the signature dish of RootsLiving. It encompasses everything that RootsLiving is about: it’s simple, uses fresh ingredients of the season, healthy (so healthy it should ward off the flu) and delicious.
BONUS: And if you leave out the cream and butter, it’s low-calorie. (If you substitute water for the chicken stock, it’s just as good and zero points for you weight watchers out there.)
- 6 leeks (chop off the roots and leaves
- use just the white and light green part, discard the rest.)
- 5 cups diced potatoes
- 3 cups diced sweet potatoes
- 3 cups diced carrots
- 8-10 cups chicken stock
- Salt (to taste)
- Dash of nutmeg (Nutmeg is strong so use no more than 1/8 teaspoon.)
- Butter (1-2 tablespoons, or less)
- Heavy cream (About 1/4 cup)
- Step 1 Put everything in a pot (except for the nutmeg, butter and heavy cream) and bring to a boil.
- Step 2 Lower heat and simmer, covered loosely for about 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
- Step 3 Wait until ingredients cool and then puree in a blender in batches (if ingredients are still warm or hot, be careful not to burn yourself).
- Step 4 Heat up soup, add nutmeg, butter and the heavy cream (don’t let it boil.)
- Step 5 Serve with a crusty bread (french, ciabatta, italian etc.)