RECIPE TITLE "Pasta and Chick Pea Soup (Pasta e Ceci) "
recipe excerpted from Patricia Wells' Trattoria: Simple and Robust Fare Inspired by the Small Family Restaurants of Italy © by Patricia Wells
... more great recipes from Patricia Wells on our GREAT CHEFS page!
Yield: 8 to 10 servings ---
The Italians are great soup eaters, and one of the truly classic trattoria soups is this simple blend of chick peas — also known as garbanzo beans — simmered in an aromatic broth, punctuated by bits of pasta, and seasoned at table with best-quality olive oil. The soup should be thick and porridge-like, almost thick enough to hold a spoon upright! Since it's so rich, serve it in small portions, accompanied, at most, by a green salad or simple grilled poultry or fish. It's also a great treat when preceded by a platter of raw vegetables dipped in olive oil, just as I sampled one spring evening at Trattoria Omero, a lively spot with a marvelous view of the hills of Florence. Some foods are simply an excuse for eating something else, and I often think of this golden, harvest-like soup as an excuse for garlic and oil, two favorite foods that always put me in a happy frame of mind.
3 cups (1 pound; 500 g) dried chick peas (garbanzo beans)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
4 plump fresh garlic cloves, crushed
Several sprigs of fresh parsley, sprigs of sage, bay leaves, and celery leaves, tied in a bundle with cotton twine
2 to 3 quarts (2 to 3 l) cold water
Fine sea salt to taste
1/2cup (3 ounces; 90 g) tiny dried Italian pasta, such as ditalini, broken spaghetti, or tiny elbow macaroni
Extra-virgin olive oil, for the table
* Rinse and drain the chick peas, pickingthem over to remove any pebbles. Place the chick peas in a large bowl, add boiling water to cover, and set aside for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the chick peas, discarding the water. Set aside.
* In a 6-quart (6-1) heavy-bottomed stockpot, combine the olive oil, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and the herb bundle, and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are fragrant and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chick peas, stir to coat with oil, and cook for 1 minute more. Add 2 quarts (2 l) water and stir. Cover, bring to a simmer over moderate heat, and simmer for 1 hour. Add the salt and continue simmering until the chick peas are tender, about 1 hour more, stirring from time to time to make sure they are not sticking to the bottom of the stockpot. Add additional water if the soup becomes too thick. (Cooking time will vary according to the freshness of the chick peas.)
* Remove and discard the herb bundle. Using an immersion mixer, roughly purée the soup directly in the stockpot. (Alternatively, pass the soup through the coarse blade of a food mill or purée in batches in a food processor, and return it to the stockpot.) The soup should have a creamy, but not totally smooth, consistency. It should be very thick, almost porridge-like. Season with salt to taste. Add the pasta, stir, and cook just until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes more, stirring frequently to keep the pasta from sticking. Taste for seasoning.
* To serve, ladle the soup — piping hot — into warmed shallow soup bowls. Pass a cruet of extra-virgin olive oil, drizzling a swirl of oil directly into each bowl of soup. (The soup, of course, may be reheated several times over a period of several days. If it thickens, simply thin with water each time you reheat the soup.)
© Patricia Wells
|Vegetable Harvest: Vegetables at the Center of the Plate
To dispense with a puzzlement right away--though named Vegetable Harvest, Patricia Wells's marvelous 190-plus recipe collection doesn't center on those edibles exclusively. Rather, it offers a well-rounded dish selection that puts them to brilliant use, often as supporting players (except, of course, in chapters titled "Vegetables" and "Potatoes"). This bit of culinary license shouldn't discourage anyone from buying the book, whose recipes, such as Baby Squid Salad with Garlic, Olives, Tomatoes and Parsley; Penne with Fava Beans, Basil Puree, and Parmesan; and Lamb Couscous with Chickpeas and Zucchini, exemplify all that's remarkable about Wells's approach to modern French cooking. Emphasizing simplicity, ingredient freshness and, yes, ease of preparation, the dishes--including breads and desserts like Lemon and Rosemary Flatbread and Almond Buttermilk Sorbet--will delight any cook who prizes direct yet brilliantly orchestrated flavor. In addition to wine advice, Wells also offers a pantry chapter including sauce and vinaigrette recipes--Creamy Lemon-Chive Dressing is one--nearly worth owning the book for. In works including The Provence Cookbook and Bistro Cooking, Wells brought French cooking to the American kitchen in a way both authentic and relaxed. Vegetable Harvest furthers that approach spectacularly. --Arthur Boehm Click here to buy
How can a good cook become a great cook? It's all in the detailsBecoming a Good Cook Means Learning Principles that Will Last
You a Lifetime in the Kitchen; With Simply French,
You Will Never Cook The Same Way Again.
# Knowing when to season and how
# Appreciating the simple process of reducing a sauce
# Allowing meats and poultry to rest so they release maximum flavor
# The simple art of straining a sauce for a refined condensed flavor
# Knowing why dried herbs are no substitute for fresh
In Simply French acclaimed food critic and best-selling author of Trattoria Patricia Wells works side by side with award-winning French chef Joel Robuchon to distill the best of the French table for the American cook. Among the 125 exciting recipes youll find in Simply French are Potatoes "Chanteduc," a perfect Roast Chicken, Beef Tenderloin Roasted in Herb-Infused Salt Crust, Marbleized Chocolate Wafers, and Cinnamon-Chocolate Mousse.Click here to buy
In this warm look into the world of French bistro food, eminent food writer Patricia Wells reveals her love for this simple, robust cuisine in a collection of recipes garnered from France's best bistros. From Warm Potato Salad with Herbed Vinaigrette to Lamb Stew in White Wine to Pear Clafoutis, Wells admits her preference for hearty, homey bistro dishes. Through clearly written recipes, Wells encourages cooks to buy the best ingredients and turn them into fragrant, warming dishes. Each recipe has a note telling where it came from and alluding to its flavor. Pithy quotes throughout the book relate to bistro style--in cooking, serving, and eating--and historical quotations give a cultural connotation. Wine choices reach deep into the heart of France, from a crisp white from Provence such as a Chateau Simone with lamb, to a good Côtes du Rhone (Cru du Coudelet) with guinea hen. From the introduction to the last dessert recipe (for Prunes in Red Wine), Bistro Cooking is sure to please not just the novice in the kitchen, but the experienced cook as well. --Susan Loomis, Amazon.co.uk Click here to buy
|The Paris Cookbook
American-born Paris dweller Patricia Wells has turned her love of French food into a remarkable series of culinary works. The Paris Cookbook reflects that affection and her familiarity with the Paris food scene, offering 150 of its best recipes. From famed chef Joël Robuchon's sublime Creamy White Bean Soup to a hearty flank steak dish courtesy of Wells's butcher; from bistro Chez Benoit's Asparagus and Green Bean Salad to confectioner La Maison du Chocolate's Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse, the book abounds in wonderful food. Wells's achievement, here as elsewhere, is to make her recipes genuinely accessible to the average cook; well-chosen and lucidly written, they invite even the hesitant into the kitchen with the promise of great eating.
Following the courses of a typical Parisian meal, from appetizers through desserts, the book presents three-star dishes like Arpège Eggs with Maple Syrup, as well as more humble fare, including an exemplary Lemon Chicken and socca, the delicious Provençale pancakes. A section on pasta, rice, beans, and grains offers such standouts as Flora's Polenta Fries. Desserts also receive their due with delights like Fresh Fig and Almond Gratin. Illustrated with photos that evoke Parisian life at the market and at the table, and containing a wealth of tips and helpful information, wine recommendations, plus the addresses of the dining spots mentioned, the book is a worthy addition to Wells's dependable store of cooking guides. --Arthur Boehm Click here to buy
|The Provence Cookbook
In books including The Paris Cookbook and Bistro Cooking Patricia Wells offered personal takes on delicious French fare. The Provence Cookbook finds Wells, a resident of the region, evoking the terroir in over 200 recipes culled form chefs, home cooks, farmers, and more. Like her other collections, Provence yields easy but elegant fare--modern, light-on-their-feet dishes like Six-Minute Cod Braised in Spicy Tomato Sauce and Francks's Roasted Duck Breasts with Green Olives. While the recipes are truly French (with an occasional cross-cultural contribution), Wells has done her usual trick of translating them for relaxed American cooking; she's also provided enticing vignettes on local markets; on ingredients, like the nutty camargue rice; and on other culinary suppliers such as Hervé Poron, "The Truffle King." In themselves, the listings make a useful guide.
In addition to the expected categories, the large recipe range includes breads, pasta, and egg and cheese dishes, such as Quick Polenta Bread with Rosemary, Linguini with Saffron, and Baked Arugula Omelet. Desserts are hardly neglected, and include evocative specialties like Fresh Fig and Homemade Apricot Jam Tart, Three Pear Cake, and Individual Cherry-Hazelnut Gratins. Tips like "On Peeling Tomatoes," menus, and photos further distinguish a book that will delight both Wells's fans and those fortunate to discover her culinary France. --Arthur Boehm Click here to buy