Driving the backroads of Italy on a cold and overcast day with cold feet and an empty stomach was not an idea we originally planned on, but following a friend’s suggestion, we were headed for a tiny restaurant tucked away in the countryside. We came upon it late in the afternoon, in a stand of bare oak trees, beside a small family owned winery. Rows of gnarled old grape vines bordered the road and a shepherd herded his flock through an adjoining field, closely followed by his faithful sheepdog. If hunger had not given me a push, I could have happily watched this rustic scene until the sun went down.


low ceilinged room was floored in ancient terra cotta tiles, worn in the traffic spots. A couple of hanging light fixtures illuminated the space, and small ceramic pots with a sprig or two of lavender were on the cloth covered tables. No sooner were we seated when the smiling owner brought a basket of home-baked crusty bread and a bowl of olive oil, and a bottle of house wine. Somewhere in the back we could hear the clatter of pots and pans and a wonderful smell told us we were in the right place.

We both opted for the soup of the day, which arrived in large ceramic bowls and a promise of seconds if we wished. The scent was addictive, with just a hint of garlic and parmigiano.

After this warming and satisfying meal, we asked who the talented chef was, and it turned out to be her son that day. Oh for a son like that in my kitchen!


A cup each of chopped carrots, celery and onion, sauteed in a little olive oil. Add a clove or 2 of garlic and a diced potato. Saute for about 5 more minutes, and add about 3 cans of chicken broth (or vegetable broth) Meanwhile, brown 2-3 Italian sausages and a few slices of bacon chopped. Drain the fat and add to vegetables. Add a couple large handfuls of chopped kale or chard to the pot. At this point if desired, you can also add a can of cannelini beans. (As you can see, you can take this soup in many different directions.) Add 1 cup of heavy cream. Throw in a couple Tbs. olive oil, a generous handful of bread crumbs, and a handful of parmigiano or pecorino cheese.
Now, about those bread crumbs. We always have leftover bread around, and I never throw anything away. (Depression baby.) We grind them and use them in many things. Toasted they are great sprinkled over a pasta dish or a cup of soup, but included IN the soup they serve to thicken it. Just keep them in a ziplock bag in the freezer and they reward you. Cut into 1/2 cubes, tossed in a little olive oil and garlic powder, they toast up nicely in a 325 over for about 10-12 min. and are good on salad or on top of soup.


Author: kaytisweetlandrasmussen83

I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family,dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.

13 thoughts on “AMAZING GRAZING 2”

  1. This is exactly my kind of recipe, Kayti. Adding or throwing a bit of this and a handful of that is the secret to a great home-cooked dish. And may I add that a cup of heavy cream never killed anyone. Just ask Julia! I will be giving this a try very soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A soup is restorative at any time. Helvi is the Queen of lentil soup here in The Southern Highlands and reigns supreme. The kitchen becomes her atelier and I stay well clear giving her total freedom to express her art with the mighty lentil and her home grown herbs.


  3. Oh, that takes me back to 2002, Katy ! I would so love to give you the relevant link to our travel site; but it has kind of fallen apart, code-wise. And until I manage to get my ancient act together and FIX IT, no-one can read about our travels through Italy.
    [sob !]
    My problem is that I don’t know HOW to fix it, yet …


  4. This has gone directly into my files. It’s interesting, because right up to the cream, it was pretty much what I do when I decide to throw a pot of soup together. But I rarely do any cream soups, except for butternut squash. I never have added bread crumbs, either. That’s going to be a next experiment!


    1. I don’t give this enough cream to actually make it a cream soup. You could also use milk, but I like the mellowness of cream. I like to make things that carry over to the next day (or two) Makes it easier if you have a busy week away from home. The other thing I frequently add is canned cannelini beans. You probably do that too.


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