Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cookbook of the Week: The Essential Italian Cookbook

Next on the shelf is the Essential Italian Cookbook, one of those Barnes and Noble reprint specials -- hardcover but slim with color step-by-step pictures and a few charming English translation typos (like "Bring to the boil.") This one doesn't hold any Earth shattering truths but just the basics which are always good starting points. My recipe? Pasta con i Fagioli -- white bean soup with noodles. Here's the basic recipe with my modifications. (I find that almost no soup recipes call for enough salt or seasoning.)

What do you need?

1/2 bag of white beans (soaked overnight)
1/2 pound ground pork or bacon
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
good handful of fresh parsley, chopped
5 sprigs fresh sage, chopped
2 bay leaves
lots of salt and pepper, seriously, not just a little, but this should be a hearty savoury soup, Salt early and often tasting along the way
1/2 small box of spaghetti
1) soak beans overnight, drain, and put in a soup pot with all vegetables and herbs, bacon, ham or pork. Boil, then cover and reduce and cook until beans are tender - 2-5 hours.

2) Keep mashing beans with the back of a spoon to thicken the soup. Throw in extra salt/pepper and a hunk of parm rind while it's cooking.

3) The recipe says to boil the pasta directly in the soup, but I like it better boiling the pasta seperately, then adding to the soup. Spaghetti is perfect - and shave a ton of parmesan into each bowl when you serve.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You mean there are other Italian cookbooks besides what Marcella Hazan writes? You sure?