Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy October!

October has officially started, and already my windows are closed against some chilly weather outside. With this chilly weather I got to get out my cookbooks and start browing for soup recipes. Soups are my very favorite thing to make. To me, making them is therapy. I had a rough day today, and, along with being cold, I decided to get out my knife and start chopping some vegetables for soup. My rough day faded away~ chopping ingredients and listening to my iPod are perfect therapy.
I would like to share a recipe that I really like that I have taken from one of my idols, Jamie Oliver, aka The Naked Chef. This comes from one of his more recent books: "Jamie's Italy". When I first saw this recipe I was a little skeptical if it would have any flavor, as the ingredient list was on the short side. But I was proven wrong. It is one of the wonderful things about how the Italians cook: they only use the necessary ingredients, and skip out on any spices or other things that would mask the true, delicious flavors of the these ingredients.

Pasta with chickpeas
Pasta e ceci

1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
a spring of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
2 14 oz cans chickpeas
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
3 1/2 oz ditalini or small soup pasta
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
optional: a small handful of fresh basil or parsley, leaves picked and torn

Put the finely chopped onion, celery, and garlic into a suacepan with a little extra virgin olive oil and rosemary and cook as gently as possible, with the lid on, for about 15-20 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft, without any color.
Drain your chickpeas well and rinse them in cold water, then add them to the pan and cover with the stock. Cook gently for half an hour then, using a slotted spoon, remove half of the chickpeas and put them to one side in a bowl.
Puree the soup in the pan using a handheld immersion blender. If you don't have one, you can whiz it up in a food processor instead, then pour it back into the pan. Add the reserved whole chickpeas and the pasta, season the soup with salt and pepper, and simmer gently until the chickpeas are tender and the pasta is cooked.
At this point, if the soup is a little thick, pour in some boiling water from the kettle to thin it down, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve drizzled with good quality xtra virgin olive oil. Lovely sprinkled with some freshly torn basil or parsely. A real treat.
This is very full flavored soup, as you can taste the chickpeas, chicken broth, simple mixture of vegetables and the rosemary. Nothing else. Bon appetit.

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