Winter warmth

We don’t like winter. But, given this reality, we do the best we can to turn this around and make the most of it. We plan fun times with friends. We ski some. We enjoy our fireplace on most cold nights. We catch up on favorite television series and oscar-nominated films. And, we make lots of soup!

Currently, one of our favorites is a soup with butternut squash, kale, and chickpeas. It’s flavored with  juniper berries, and, being a fan of gin, I love the little taste these tiny berries give to the soup (and, of course, to gin!) Lately, we’ve been bringing this one to work for lunch. It’s a nice way to eat vegetarian, get some protein from the chickpeas, enjoy the flavors, and, especially, be warmed by a hot, homemade soup.

The soup in today’s post is a little more hearty and not quite vegetarian with some pancetta thrown in. Potatoes are also in the mix for this nourishing, dense, and rustic soup. With a fettunta (click here to check out this simple crostini) alongside the soup you have a nice meal.

Ingredients: (or click here to view a video and recipe in Italian)

  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 250 g of dried borlotti beans (can be called cranberry beans in the U.S. and a substitute could be pinto beans or a red kidney beans)
  • 80 g of smoked pancetta
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 celery stick
  • 4 sage leaves
  • a bunch of parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 4 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Process:

To prepare the potato and borlotti soup, start by soaking dry borlotti in cold water (if you use fresh ones, do not do this) for about 10/12 hours. Then cook for 15 minutes in a pressure cooker, with salt water (if you want you can also add a carrot and a leg of celery) or for about 40 minutes in a regular pot.

Once cooked, drain them conserving the water. Meanwhile clean the onion, carrot and celery and chop finely. Peel the potatoes and cut into small cubes. Chop half of the bacon.

In a pan place the extra virgin olive oil and add the clove of garlic, the chopped onion, carrot and celery and sage leaves. Let them wither and then add the smoked bacon you have chopped as well as the remaining in small cubes. When the bacon has browned, add the potato cubes and brown them. Then add 4-5 ladles of the cooking water of the beans and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender; if necessary add more cooking water. (We also added some sliced tomatoes).

Season with salt, pepper and, if you prefer, remove the clove of garlic that has released its aroma. Finally add the cooked borlotti beans and leave everything to flavor for another two minutes. Take about half of the soup and process it with an immersion mixer. When it reaches a velvety consistency, add it to the rest of the soup, then sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley. Serve the hot potato and borlotti soup with grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil!

Buon appetito!

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