The thought of soup simmering away on the stove conjures up so many images. Working, reading or playing near the fireplace, woollen jumpers and thermals, thick socks, breath you can see, lazy days, staying at home, hot food, warm toes, scarfs!
My memories are so vivid of a particular time in my childhood where mum made soup for Sunday lunch. We'd sit at the dining table with our steaming hot soup, hot crunchy bread served straight from the oven still in the baking tray wrapped in foil, trying to open up the foil without burning our fingers with the steam and pick up a roll but dropping it immediately out of our fingers as soon as we picked it up and as just as quickly the firm butter turning into dripping butter as soon as it touched the hot, doughy inside of the bread and straight into our mouths! While sipping our soup we watched the old TCM movies with Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney and all those favourites. The wood fire would be burning away nicely not too far away in the lounge room and Mum would be back busy sewing on her machine soon after lunch, the smell of the new material, thread and her Singer machine fills my nose even now so many years later.
Here's a soup which takes me back to those days.
Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)
Vogue Entertaining + Travel
3 stalks celery
60g butter, chopped
6 roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, finely chopped*
1 ham hock*
1.5l chicken stock*
575 g fresh borlotti beans*
100g short macaroni or other short soup pasta
1tbspn each chopped flat-leafed parsley, chervil and chives
finely grated parmesan, to serve
Chop onions, carrots and celery into 1cm pieces. Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until soft. Add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes, then add ham hock and stock. Simmer gently for 2 hours.
Remove hock from soup, cool slightly then shred meat. Skim excess fat off soup, add ham meat, beans and pasta and cook for 7 minutes or until pasta is al dente and beans are tender. Stir in herbs and season with freshly group black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with parmesan.
*onions can be substituted for leeks
*a pun net of tomatoes is fine
*the butcher offered to chop the hock into 3 pieces to allow for increase in flavour, which also made it more manageable in the pot as well
*homemade stock if possible
*instead of fresh beans, I used a tin of organic borlotti
This soup can be quite a fatty soup so cooking it a day ahead allows for the fat to settle on top in the fridge, which can be scraped off before reheating.
The children instead of having the soup, had the meat from the ham, a small amount of soup in a big bowl of mashed potato instead which they loved!
And don't forget the bread -- Enjoy!