So here is the first dish to come out of my kitchen away from home. I will be cooking here for the next 3 months and look forward to buying my meat and veggies from the local merchants in the piazza a few minutes from our apartment.
This soup came out of a need to feel warm and full, and it did the job to perfection. I found the little pasta pebbles in the local grocery/wine shop, and immediately thought of a rustic soup. Along with the local sausage and chicken, this soup became a complete meal in one big pot.
I cannot begin to explain how different my life is right now. We live in a building that is at least 500 years old, which also happens to be situated in an Etruscan hilltop city. The view from my bedroom window is so spectacular; I should have to pay a toll every time I stand there to gaze out. There are coffee shops with high marble bars on every corner, and Marco the proprietor of the local wine shop is our new best friend!
Cortona is also experiencing something that has not happened in apparently years and years; a huge prolonged snowfall! Dealing with lots of snow can be difficult for the most prepared of cities, but in a place which is not only unprepared, but also has streets that consist of stairs and steep flagstones, it is virtually impossible to clear. The salt for the roads for example, is spread by a person carrying a metal bucket, who throws it like chicken feed!
The first day I walked from our new lodgings to town, to kit out my kitchen from everything from pepper to parsley. My route followed part of the thick city wall, and the view along my way is something I will never get used to.
I am a little overwhelmed, but smile at the prospect of the happy challenges ahead; learning Italian, taking 3 hour lunches, shopping for ingredients, teaching metals at the school with my man Dave, sending the kids to the local school a couple of days a week, and immersing myself into the culture of this beautiful little town.
I also look forward to all of my friends and family who will come to visit. I am already giddy at the prospect of showing them around “my town”
You will need: 4 tbls extra-virgin olive oil, 2 chicken breast fillets, chopped into bite-sized pieces, 4 Italian sausages, casing removed, 2 medium onions, diced, 3 celery ribs, including leaves, sliced (use 2, if the ribs are very large), 2 large carrots, sliced, ½ head of escarole, roughly chopped, 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (including stems), 1 tbls mild curry powder, 1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes, 8 cups water, 1 good quality veggie or chicken bouillon cube, 1 ¼ cups tiny pasta (such as pastini or tempesta).
1 – Prep all ingredients before you start cooking.
2 – Put large pot on medium/low heat and add the oil. When it has warmed, add the onions, celery and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
3 – Break up the sausage and add to the pot as you go. Cook veggies with the sausage for another 7 minutes.
4 – Add the liquid, parsley, and the pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the chicken, escarole, and pasta.
5 – Bring back to a simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes on low heat, (make sure there is a very slight simmer going at all times).
6 – Turn off heat and taste for the addition of salt and pepper. Let the soup sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
Ladle into shallow soup bowls and serve as is, or with some good crusty bread and a green salad.