Thursday, January 28, 2010


I might have mentioned this before but I am going to say it again. I LOOOOOOOVE SOUPS!

Minestrone is no exception to the rule: yummy comfort food! Even now that I make it any time of the year and not just in the Summer like I used to do back at home.

I know: here in the U.S. most people feel that soups are mainly a winter (or at least cold-weather) dish, but if you think of it, what's more "in season" in the summertime than all the wonderful vegetables that make a good Minestrone? Plus, if you eat it lukewarm or even cold it's so refreshing too!

When people ask me if I can give them the recipe for my minestrone I always smile. It is against the concept of Minestrone itself to call for a recipe! Let me explain: ideally you go to the garden in your backyard during a summer evening, pick whatever is ripe and ready on that particular day/time, bring it inside and the next morning you dice every single vegetable, chop, mince, add cold water and salt and boil until cooked. Then you adjust with salt and pepper, add your favorite shape of noodle and cook it (I often skip this step, though: I like mine better without pasta). Then pour it in your bowl, drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive oil and gulp it down, enjoying every spoonful of it!

Whether there is a little more carrot or a little less celery, more beans or less zucchini it is not for you to decide: it's the garden! So don't let anybody fool you with the "perfect recipe" for Minestrone! Just use your senses and do in the produce section of your favorite supermarket (or favorite farmers' market, Shylah ;-) ) what my grandma used to do in her own garden and simply pick what you think looks, smell, taste at its best! THAT will be the perfect Minestrone!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sugo Finto (Fake Sauce)

I love this name. It's a confession. It's a "don't tell me I did not warn you". This is a traditional Tuscan sauce that was basically invented to smell, taste and satisfy your palate and your belly the way a ragu' would, without the shadow of a piece of meat in the pot. That’s why the definition of "finto", "fake", was given.

This was back in the days when meat was a treat, an "upgrade" of the meal that we could not often afford. Veggies and herbs, even lots of them like you can find in here, in order to give this sauce the same texture a good ragu' has, were grown in the garden in the backyard, so those were never really a problem instead.

It takes the same basic steps to make this "sugo", the same attention, time and dedication that a good meat sauce would require. Cheaper, though, like I stated above. I would not be so sure to affirm the same, nowadays, when you need to rob a jewelry store before stopping by a farmers' market.

Funny though how so often the best ideas came out of poverty and hunger. In the Italian cuisine it happened all the time!