Lunch, Snack, Supper, Pot-Luck Dinner
- 30ml olive oil
- 80g pancetta- finely diced
- 1 onion- chopped
- 1 capsicum-chopped
- 3 sticks celery-chopped
- 1 carrot-finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic-thinly sliced
- 1 tblsp tomato puree
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 50g cooked cannellini beans
- 1 bayleaf
- 2tsp fresh oregano-chopped
- 4tsp fresh basil- ripped into pieces
- 1 potato- cut into 1cm dice
- 1.2 lit chicken stock-hot
- 60g risoni/orzo/ditali/macaroni pasta- cooked until very al dente (with very firm bite)
- 3tblsp parmesan-finely grated
- seasoning to taste
- freshly milled pepper
Step by Step Instructions
After reading the title of this dish, you’re probably wondering about the significance.
Castelnuovo di Porto is a comune (small town) about 20km outside Rome in Italy. It’s where I learnt many years ago about the true essence of food, culture and hospitality.
I won’t lie. I left the country in tears as an 20 year old, thinking I knew nothing about food and hadn’t until that time tasted a real salad, a vegetarian dish, a proper pasta, or a real mortadella ham.
I returned to this town and Italy for the next 15 years and will always have a place in my heart for this hub of warmth and high culture.
To begin this recipe warm a medium to large pot over a high heat and add olive oil and pancetta. Cook the pancetta for 2mins to release its fat and help flavour the soup.
Add onions, carrots, capsicum and celery to the pot, season with salt and pepper, cook for 3mins over a high flame. Stir occasionally.
Add tomato puree to the pot and while still cooking on high heat, stir through for 1min and then add garlic, bay leaf and diced potatoes. Add a little seasoning.
Pour tinned tomatoes into the pot along with chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook on a medium heat for 20mins.
Once the soup has cooked for 20mins (add water if it’s getting too thick or there isn’t a lot of stock left) add oregano, basil and the cooked pasta of your choosing.
Stir through, lower the temperature to a low heat, season to taste and cook for another 3mins.
The soup should now be quite thick with ingredients, rich in flavour, slightly greasy on the top (which is totally normal), and a deep red colour.
This soup will always taste better if left to stand for at least 10mins before eating.
The final process is to stir through the grated parmesan and freshly milled pepper.
This soup is a wonderful winter warmer. My girlfriend takes it to work sometimes for lunch. It can be easily frozen, made and kept in the fridge for up to five days, and is an excellent choice for people of all ages.
Italian food isn’t difficult to make but you have to check, taste and adjust at each stage of the process.
I find the less food on the plate, the harder it is to make because nothing is hidden as part of an ensemble of 30 components.
Think about it. If a plate consists of tomato, onion, mozzarella and basil and one of those ingredients isn’t of the highest standard the whole dish will is effected.
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