We are back from our trip to Montréal and Québec City.
We had a fabulous time and only one International incident (read minor injury) as Chris likes to refer to it. Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing photos, stories, recommendations and my thoughts on Canada and its Frenchiness Factor.
As with taking a vacation, I return to piles of work, clogged email, and lots of catching up to do with my favorite blogs and very little time.
One of the things on my long to do list is recipe testing.
You may remember the La Cucina Italiana soup recipe contest. Well, I am now taste testing not one, but two new soups.
I am sworn to secrecy and I believe the winner will be announced at the end of the month.
Until then, I will share the two recipes I am busy testing and eating now.
Yeah, its a tough job, but someones gotta do it!!
Cooking time: 30 minutes (add 30-90 minutes to roast the beets which
can be roasted 1-2 days before)
3 leeks, white parts only, cleaned, halved lengthwise and sliced across
20oz/600g roasted beets (see below for roasting instructions)
1” fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup cooked pumpkin or squash puree
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (you might want more if you like a
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
To roast beets: preheat oven to 400°F/200°C
1. Scrub beets and toss with a little olive oil, salt & pepper
2. Roast until soft (depending on the size of the beets, anywhere from
3. Once beets are cooked, allow them to cool enough to handle and peel
1. In a over medium-low heat, melt the butter in olive oil
and then add the leeks, sauté until they are soft and translucent.
Don’t let them burn.
2. Once the leeks are soft, add the beets, pumpkin & thyme and
sauté for another 3-4 minutes. Add the broth and lemon juice and heat
3. Puree the beets in the broth and return to stove. Simmer until ready
Creamed Zuppa Di Fagioli with Herbed Olive Oil Drizzle
1 teaspoon each chopped fresh marjoram, parsley and cilantro
1 1/2 cups dry cannelloni beans (soak overnight)
4 oz. salt-cured pancetta, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 whole garlic clove, cut in half (and set aside)
4 cups homemade chicken stock
2 cups water
5 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 Tb fresh parsley, chopped
8 , chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 slices of coarse peasant bread, cut in 3/4-inch slices
For garnish: Freshly shaved parmesan cheese and prepared infused olive
1. Soak beans in water overnight in a large bowl; water should be
at least 3 inches above beans. Drain in the morning.
2. Place ¾ cup oil in a crock pot with herbs and heat on high heat
1 to ½ hours while the soup is cooking. (This can be done on the stove
top, too, very low, but, it’s easy to over heat the oil, so the crock
pot is safer). When infused, Strain oil of herbs. Store infused oil
in a jar. (Oil can be stored in refrigerator 2 weeks).
3. Heat a bit of regular olive oil in a large stock pot and sauté
pancetta and celery on medium heat, about 5 minutes until softened.
Add chopped garlic, cooking a couple more minutes until softened.
4. Add beans, chicken stock, water, sage, parsley and tomatoes.
Bring pot to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until beans are
tender, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
5. In batches, put soup in a blender and blend until smooth.
Return blended soup to the pot and gently heat throughout. Season with
salt and pepper to taste.
6. Toast peasant bread rubbed with halved garlic cloves under a
broiler until golden. Place toasts in the bottom of 6 serving bowls;
brush toasts with a thin layer of scented oil.
7. Ladle the soup over the bread. Shave a generous portion of
fresh parmesan cheese on each bowl and drizzle with a swirl of infused
oil, about 1 TBSP per bowl.
Serve with traditional Italian bread, green salad and your favorite
I hope you will tune in, as I will announce who La Cucina chooses as the winner. Until then, I would love to hear your thoughts on these recipes.