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.



13 comments 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. Ooh! Lentil soup. Gotta be good, plus home grown herbs,, can hardly top that. I salute Queen Helvi.


  4. 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 …


  5. 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!


    • 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.


  6. How yummy! I can almost envision this scene in my mind. You painted a beautiful picture with your description.


  7. You paint the scene so well who could resist this soup? I could eat soup every day so I’ll give this a shot and report back. x


  8. Thanks Narelle. Have a lovely Valentine’s Day.ooxx


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