This soup recipe is from the cookbook, Soup; Superb Ways with a Classic Dish, and is super easy to make...well beyond mincing up two onions. Get out those swim googles so you don't cry like a baby and risk chopping your fingers. It does take about 90 minutes to cook though, so best to make it on a weekend and eat it as leftovers during the week. It holds up well for about a week and also freezes perfectly...I often make a double batch.
Berries: 3 baskets of fresh, ripe strawberries 2 tsp. sugar
Quarter strawberries into a medium sized bowl...if they're larger strawberries cut into sixths or eighths. Sprinkle with sugar, stir, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes. This is called macerating...the sugar softens the berries and pulls the juices out of the berries so that you get a nice natural sauce along with your berries. Add a bit of good balsamic vinegar and/or thinly sliced basil if you're feeling playful.
It makes me feel connected to my Italian roots and think back to the amazing two trips I've taken to Italy. I'm fortunate enough to have actually visited the Ligurian region of Italy and enjoy truly authentic Ligurian Pesto while there...so I'm excited to bring a taste of that amazing vacation back home with this recipe! Since heirloom tomatoes are in season right now (along with all of that basil I needed for the pesto!) I tossed some chopped tomatoes into this dish to brighten it up a bit. Sometimes pesto can feel a bit indulgent with all of that olive oil and cheese. Add a glass of Pinot Grigio and you have a happy Italian SavoryGirl!
The pesto recipe that I used can be found here. I typically use the pasta recipe right in my Kitchen Aid manual, but this is a pretty similar recipe. Mangia!
It's been years since I've bought dried pasta. That may sound impressive, but when you try to make it yourself once and see how easy and delicious it is I promise that you'll be making your own pasta too. The trick is that you need a pasta roller...it can be a hand roller or an attachment to a fancy kitchen aid. In my opinion, the latter is well worth the investment. Back to the pasta...the great thing about pasta is you pretty much always have the ingredients you need to make it in the house. Flour, eggs and water. That's pretty much it! Give it a quick mix and knead and then roll it out and your ready to cook. We often make double batches of the dough and freeze it in single serving sizes so we can quickly thaw and roll it out with even less work for future dinners. The difference between dried pasta and fresh pasta is amazing...try it yourself, you'll see!
The original recipe calls for topping the lasagna with herb feta cheese, but over the years we've decided that we like it better the traditional way so we just put lots more mozzarella on top. We also always make our own lasagna noodles vs. buying store bought...which means no pre-cooking of the lasagna noodles required! That was always one of the biggest pains of lasgna to me...cooking the noodles, then keeping them moist enough while you layer so they don't all get stuck together but also waiting long enough so your not burning your hands. Issues! So homemade noodles are the way to go in my opinion...preferably wheat.
I love chickpeas, soups and pretty much anything spicy...so seeing that this dish has all three going on it's really no surprise that it's one of my favorite winter dishes. It's one of those rustic dishes that kind of tastes like home, no matter where you're from. Super simple ingredients, relatively easy preparation and delicious. One thing to note though...I would consider this more of a soup than a stew because the broth is thin, but since it's served over bread I've stuck with calling it stew.
The original recipe, shown below, is from the Bon Appétit February 2012 issue and I've pretty much been making it consistently since then. Usually when I share recipes here I like to share my own adaptions that I think make them even better, but to be honest this one is so good in it's original form that it's pretty much identical to what you'll find here on the Bon Appétit website.
Two changes I do usually make though; I double the recipe below since it only makes about 4 servings and I roast my own peppers instead of buying pre-roasted peppers. Roasting your own peppers is so easy, cheap and makes your house smell so good that I strongly recommend it. As long as you have a gas stove you can follow my tutorial for how to do it included in this recipe...and then I promise, you'll never pay a premium for roasted red peppers again!
The most labor intensive part of the recipe is julienning the beets and carrots, but if you're like me and you find chopping kind of soothing and relaxing you won't mind it. If you're not like me and even if you're not super handy with a knife it only takes 20 minutes max. Oh, and if that's the case, a quick definition - julienne means to cut into small match-stick shaped pieces.