Pasta and Bean Soup with Sausage

Ingredients

  • 2 Smoked Ham Hocks
  • 3 Yellow onions diced
  • 2 Cups of Leeks diced, rinsed, drained
  • 4 Carrots peeled, diced
  • 8 Stalks of Celery diced
  • 1 pound Crimini mushrooms sliced
  • 1 pound Hot Italian Sausage (casing removed if using links)
  • 1 pound Sweet Italian Sausage (casing removed if using links)
  • 1 28oz. Can of Diced San Marzano Tomatoes
  • 3 TBSP Tomato Paste
  • 11 Cloves of Garlic minced
  • 3 Qts. Chicken Stock
  • 12 oz. Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans) cooked
  • 12 oz. Kidney Beans (or other bean; Cannelini, Borlotti, etc.) cooked
  • 2-3 TSP Fennel Seed
  • 3-4 TBSP Fresh Rosemary chopped fine
  • 3-4 TBSP Fresh Oregano chopped fine
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste

*1 Pound Ditalini Pasta cooked al dente

*Extra Virgin Olive Oil to taste

*Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese to taste

Method of Prep

  1. In a large pot, sweat the onions, leeks, carrots and celery with the ham hocks. When these vegetables soften, add the mushrooms and garlic, stir often.
  2. Once the mushrooms have softened, begin to add in the sausage a little bit at a time and stir in. The smaller the sausage is; the better, as it will be more evenly distributed in the soup at the end.
  3. After the sausage, add the tomato paste and fennel and stir to evenly incorporate.
  4. Now add the chicken stock and diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for no less than 30 minutes or until sausage is thoroughly cooked.
  5. Shortly before serving (15 minutes) add the beans, chick peas, rosemary and half of the oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Add some pasta to each bowl of soup (amount based on preference) then drizzle with a good quality olive oil and top with fresh oregano and Parmesan cheese.

Note- The ham hocks are there for flavor, not necessarily to be eaten (unless you’d like to). Also, it is best to separately cook the beans and pasta so that they maintain their texture and don’t overcook. Always keep the pasta separate and heat up with each serving.

Roasted Oxtail and Barley Soup

Oxtail is not actually from an ox anymore. It is beef. When it is braised properly, it is very similar to the consistency of short rib; tender, moist and practically melts in your mouth. This soup is meant to be very rustic so that each serving will have one or two pieces of oxtail that will still be attached to the bone, similar to the way veal or lamb shank is typically served.

Ingredients

  • 6 lbs of Beef oxtail
  • 2 TBSP Bacon fat, or high heat oil
  • 2 Large Onions peeled, diced
  • 4 Carrots peeled, chopped small
  • 8 Stalks Celery chopped small
  • 8 cloves of garlic (slivered)
  • 2 Cups Dry White Wine
  • 3 Qts of Meat Stock
  • 2 TBSP Tomato paste
  • Fresh Rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley (chopped)
  • 2 Cups Barley cooked
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Prep…
1. Season with salt and roast oxtail pieces at 500F until you’ve attained some good caramelization; about 20-30 minutes.
2. Cut your onions, celery and carrots to a ½ inch dice and set aside. In the soup pot, sauté your vegetables on high heat with some oil until they start to brown. Turn down the heat and add your slivered garlic and tomato paste. Stir and cook for 10 minutes, then add wine and simmer for five minutes.
3. Add your stock and bring to a simmer.
4. When your oxtail pieces have finished roasting, remove from the oven and add to the soup. This includes the fat and pan drippings from your roasting pan!
5. Simmer until oxtail becomes fork tender; roughly four to five hours. Add your chopped herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Add a serving of cooked barley to each bowl.

Note: There is no measurement for the herbs and seasoning because that would be your preference based on your taste. I used about 3 sprigs of rosemary, 10-12 sprigs of thyme leaves, and about a ¼ cup of loosely packed fresh, chopped oregano and parsley.

There will be some fat (as this is a fatty cut of meat) which can be skimmed off with a ladle, or, wait until the soup is cold, and remove if that is your preference.

I prefer to add the barley to each serving as opposed to cooking in the soup. This way it will maintain its texture especially since the soup will likely be re-heated and served again.

Pig Trotter

Most people would never think of eating pig trotter, but, when prepared well…it’s pretty amazing! When pig trotters are cooked, everything becomes extremely tender, rich and flavorful. There are a variety of preparations of this inexpensive dish but in this particular recipe, I made it into a soup. Other variations include the classic rillette, terrine, or, splitting and stuffing them to serve.

This soup is a much easier and less labor-intensive preparation, and turns out a rich, flavorful dish. For those of you who are apprehensive about cooking pig’s feet, you can always substitute the ham hock which is a little easier on the eyes for the squeamish. For a more nutrient-dense, meal, I might suggest cooking off some lentils, or diced potato and adding them to each serving of soup.

Ingredients

4 pig trotters

4 Lg white onions diced

14 stalks of Celery washed, diced

8 Carrots peeled, diced

2 Cloves Garlic minsed

tomato product (tomatoes, tomato paste, crushed tomato, etc.)

rosemary, bay leaf, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper

1/2 Bottle Dry White wine

2 TBSP Dijon Mustard

2 qts. bone broth/ vegetable stock/ chicken stock

Method of Prep

1. Place pig trotters in a pot and cover with cool water. Place pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. You can use this time to prepare the other ingredients, however, make sure to continually skim the impurities off the surface of the water that is cooking the trotters.

2. After boiling and skimming for 5 minutes, remove from heat, drain off liquid, rinse off trotters and rinse out the pan. Return the trotters back to the pot, cover with cold water and add; 2 onions, 4 celery stalks, 3 carrots, 3 bay leaves, 3 sage leaves and 2 stalks of rosemary. Simmer for about three more hours or until the meat starts to easily come away from the bone.

3. When trotters are soft, carefully remove from the liquid onto a sheet pan. When cool enough to handle, pick the meat from the bone and discard any hard connective tissue. Anything soft, is edible. Try to do this before they cool, otherwise, it will be much harder to do. Roughly chop meat (and skin).

4. The liquid used for the cooking of the trotters will not be flavorful enough after only three hours. So, I wouldn’t use it for the soup. I would prefer a much more flavorful meat stock from roasted chicken, beef or pork bones. You may save the liquid to make another stock though.

5. In a pot, saute remaining vegetables until caramelized. Add white wine to de-glaze the pot, cook for 5 minutes and add the garlic. Add the Dijon mustard and tomato product, followed by the stock, meat, and fresh herbs. Bring to a slow simmer and season to taste.

A Hearty Chicken Soup

Following up a recent recipe/ post on making chicken stock, this next post is about putting it to use. As I had mentioned in the write up that went with the stock recipe, soups are a great and easy way to harness a lot of good nutrition. This particular chicken soup recipe contains chicken, bacon, beans, kale, onions, carrots, celery, fresh herbs, and extra-virgin olive oil. Since I also have home-made tomato sauce (from this blog) on hand, I have been adding a couple spoonfuls to each bowl I heat up for even more depth of flavor!

This could quite possibly be; the perfect meal. Essentially, your protein is the base. You’ve made soup from chicken bones which also contains (picked) chicken meat and a bunch of vegetables. I ended up making soup from the carcasses which still had the legs attached (I hadn’t gotten around to eat them yet). This is a relatively lean meal as it is. Sure, there’s eight ounces of bacon in there and some chicken fat, but for the quantity that is made, it is not high in fat. It can also be easily tailored to meet individual nutritional needs of the people living under the same roof. In my case, I need more carbs and total calories than my wife. During the week I usually have a pot of rice cooked off, or potatoes, or lentils, or barley, you get the picture… So, a cup of rice added to my bowl of soup will do the trick. If I am going through a couple days of not lifting or, am following more of a ketogenic approach, or even carb cycling, this can be a great base for which carbohydrate and even fat can be added or left out.

In buying chicken for a stock or soup, I would suggest free range, organic (if possible). Stay away from the $.99/lb crap that you’d see at most supermarkets if you care about food and where it comes from. Pay a little bit extra for the local, good quality chicken that is free range. It will be worth it. Below is an excerpt from a James Beard ‘Cookbook of the Year’ Award winning book:

Despite the still underwhelming demand, all the supermarkets now stock at least a few free-range chickens in most of their stores. And most of them carry organic poultry in their larger branches. What this tells us is that they are already poised to respond to public demand for more ethically produced poultry meat- just as they did for eggs a few years back. If free-range birds start moving a little quicker, at the expense of conventional broilers, which then begin to linger beyond their sell-by date a little more often, be assured that the pattern will have rapid repercussions throughout the industry. The big supermarkets will soon be in discussion with their free-range suppliers, asking if they can increase production – or with their conventional suppliers, discussing the possibility of moving over to free-range. This, of course, is precisely what we want to happen.” –Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, The River Cottage Meat Book

The Soup

Roasted Chicken Stock– 1 gallon
Chicken picked from the bones used in the stock
4 Yellow onions, 1/2 in. dice
8 Carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, 1/4 inch slices
10 Celery stalks, washed, 1/4 inch slices
1 bunch of kale, washed, stems removed, 1/4 inch ‘chiffonade’
4 pints of mushrooms, chopped, use any kind but prefer oyster or trumpet mushrooms
8-10 Garlic cloves, minced
12 oz. of beans, cooked; Borlotti, Cannelini, Kidney, etc.
Bacon 8oz, 1/2 inch dice, use good quality bacon such as ‘Vermont Smoke and Cure’
2 Lemons, juiced
1 liter of white wine, Use a decent but relatively inexpensive white wine; sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, etc.
1/2 – 3/4 Teaspoon of Red Pepper flakes, or to taste
Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Rosemary to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to taste, as garnish- use good quality extra virgin olive oil for best flavor
Method of Prep
  1. In a large soup pot, render bacon until crisp, over low heat. Keep an eye on it and stir every once in a while.
  2. Once bacon has rendered, add onions, celery, and carrots and sweat over medium heat until they tenderize a bit (about 10-15 minutes). Add mushrooms and cook until they are soft and release their moisture.
  3. Add kale, stir. Once kale cooks down (roughly 3-5 minnutes) stir in garlic and red pepper flakes, and then add the wine and lemon juice.
  4. Over medium-high heat, reduce wine/ liquid in the bottom of the pot by half and then add chicken stock. and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the picked chicken, beans, and chopped herbs to the soup, stir, season to taste with salt and pepper. Let simmer for a couple minutes and then remove from heat and serve with a drizzle of good olive oil.
  6. If storing, cool as quickly as possible and refrigerate.

Note:

  • I had also cooked off extra chicken legs for the week which can be added to the soup if there is not enough meat. I use leg meat, chicken breast meat will get dry unless they are cooked separately and added upon serving the soup.
  • Dietary fat and carbohydrate content can be easily adjusted with the addition of extra virgin olive oil and rice (or similar) without really changing the flavor.
  • If you have a good tomato sauce (like the recipe from this blog..) it makes a great addition to this soup. As an option, you could add 1 cup to the entire recipe above, or a spoonful as a garnish to an individual bowl.

Sweet Potato Soup with Crisp Bacon, Egg, and Fresh Herbs

This recipe is my variation on a pumpkin soup that was on the menu at La Locanda di Piero in Vicenza, Italy when I did my internship under Chef Renato Rizzardi.

Ingredients

8 Sweet potatoes (peeled, rough chop)
3 Spanish Onions (peeled, rough chop)
Water/ Chicken Stock to cover

Garnish

1lb Bacon (diced, rendered crisp)
Scallions (chopped fine)
2TBSP Fresh Thyme leaves (quick chop)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use good quality, tasteful olive oil)
Eggs
Salt and Pepper

MOP

  1.  In a large pot, just cover the sweet potatoes and onions with water or chicken stock and bring to a simmer until sweet potatoes are fork tender.
  2. While sweet potatoes are cooking, in a pan over medium heat, render the bacon until crispy then remove from pan and place on a paper towel to soak up excess grease.
  3. Mix diced scallion, bacon and thyme. Set aside for garnish.
  4. Once the sweet potatoes are done, use a blender to puree the soup.
  5. For each batch in the blender season to taste with salt and pepper as you go.  As the soup blends, slowly drizzle in the EVOO to emulsify.  (One blender batch will take about ¼ to ½ cup of EVOO)
  6. To serve, pour soup into a bowl and garnish with a poached egg, and the crisp bacon, scallion and thyme mixture.

**When the soup is done this way with olive oil, it is best done when hot right before you are ready to serve.  If you plan on doing this, try pureeing the soup before cooling and storing.  When re-heating to serve on following days, once the soup is hot, go through the same process with the blender again (for best results).  This recipe and its particular preparation is indicative of regional Italian cuisine using; water, (squash/ pumpkin), onion and extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. When done right and seasoned well, the simplicity of the recipe really brings out the main ingredient.

If you’re looking to make a large batch and not have to go through the blender process to eat, sub out EVOO with some cream and seasoning to taste. Either route will make a pretty tasty, soup to go with the onset of fall!