Tuscan (inspired) soup

tuscan soupI always feel soup is in order when the days get colder.  Here is a soup I like to serve on a Saturday for lunch.  Served with a big chunk of crusty bread and plenty of fresh grated parmesan it is a welcome meal in front of the fire while it is freezing outside. It is also a great way to enjoy all those winter greens available this time of year.  Experiment by substituting or combining kale, swiss chard or spinach.ingredients in bowls

TUSCAN SOUP (serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced or pressed in a garlic press
  • 1 chopped tomato or 1 cup tomato coulis
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon each oregano and basil
  • 1 cup zucchini diced
  • 4 (loose) cups baby kale
  • 1 can (15 oz) white beans

Heat the oil in a large stockpot, add the carrots, celery and onion.  Cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the tomato or tomato coulis, stock and herbs and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the zucchini and simmer another 5 minutes.  Add beans, simmer another 5 minutes.  Off heat add the kale, cover and let sit 10 minutes.  Serve with grated parmesan.bowls and linen

NOTE:  This soup is great as a vegetarian meal but for you meat eaters, if you want a more robust meal you can add 8 oz of cooked sausages or grilled chicken when adding the beans.serving soup

From my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucher

Classic Tuscan Flatbread

While on vacation this summer I was looking for a simple bread recipe.  I did not want to commit myself to running back to the house every two hours to punch the dough.  With no internet connection and a handful of cookbooks what was I to do? I went through my stack of old magazines and found the perfect recipe in Bon Appetit Magazine, the special collector edition From May 2000: Tuscany.  If you are looking for a bread to eat alongside a  soup, salad or stew, this is your bread.   It is great too for an antipasto platter and for dipping in oil and spreads.  As the bread came out of the oven we started tearing it into chunks and between warm mouthfuls everybody was putting in their two cents about the recipe.  My daughter suggested that a sprinkle of fresh rosemary would make it perfect and that’s what I did on the second round… thanks Maya!  Going back to the article and reading notes about the origin of the bread: Schiacciata (skah-shah-‘tah) I discovered that it is very versatile when it comes to its toppings: tomatoes, olives, sauteed onions.  It can be turned into a breakfast bread by adding raisins.  

Classic Tuscan Flatbread (for 1 round loaf)

  • 1 cup lukewarm water (90 to 100 degrees F)
  • 2 packages dry yeast (1/4 oz each)
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped rosemary

Pour 1 cup lukewarm water into small bowl, sprinkle with yeast.  Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes.

Place 2 cups flour in large bowl.  Make a well in center of flour.  Pour yeast mixture into well.  Using a fork, stir until dough comes together.  Knead in bowl, adding enough flour 1/4 cup at a time to form slightly sticky dough.  Transfer to floured work surface.  Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Coat bowl with 1 tablespoon oil.  Add dough and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Let stand in warm draft-free area until doubled, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Brush an 11 inch tart pan with removable bottom with 1 tablespoon oil.  Punch down dough.  Turn out onto floured work surface and shape into an 11 inch round.  Transfer dough to prepared tart pan or a baking sheet if you don’t have a tart pan.  Cover loosely with plastic.  Let rise until dough is almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Press finger tips into dough, creating indentations.  Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.  Sprinkle with salt and rosemary.  Bake until golden, about 28 minutes.  Cool bread in pan on rack 10 minutes.  Remove bread from pan and cool completely.

NOTE:  there are so little ingredients to this recipe so make sure you use the best quality olive oil and salt.  I use sel gris (gray salt).

From my kitchen to yours,

CK, la fille du boucher