Wracking coughs, runny noses, shuffling slippered feet; a very unpleasin' sneezin' and wheezin'.
A trip to pick up Grandma from the old folks home?
It's Winter and the weather has brought out a tornado of sneezes. Colds, like noses, are running throughout the house. SSSal has it the worst, but we're all a little sniffy.
There's only one real way to do battle with the common cold. Soup.
Soup warms. Soup heals. Soup wraps your insides in a warm blanket. Will soup cure the common cold? Maybe not, but it can't hurt.
I save chicken noodle soup for the flu; for a major disease like that you need the heavy artillery. For the common cold I like things a little heartier. So today it's Pappa AL Pomodoro, Tuscan Bread Soup. Like all good soups, the work is in the chopping and prep, after that's done it's sit back and relax. This soup has the greatest topping around so don't skip it unless you're really pressed for time.
Crank up the fireplace, grab some tissues, wrap yourself up in a warm blanket and enjoy...
Tuscan Bread Soup, Pappa Al Pomodoro
by Ina or Giada or Emeril or Marcella, or Biba or ...
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 2)
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced (about 3)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups (1 inch) diced Ciabatta bread cubes, crust removed
2 large cans (28 ounces each), Italian plum tomatoes
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup chopped basil leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
3 cups, 1-inch dice, ciabatta bread cubes
2 ounces thick sliced pancetta, chopped
24 whole basil leaves
3 TBSP Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Have all your vegetables chopped, diced and fully prepped.
Heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. When hot, add onions, carrots, fennel and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until tender.
Add ciabatta cubes and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Put the tomatoes in a food processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped, (alternatively, squish them in your hands, not as fast, but much more fun). Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken stock, red wine, chopped basil, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper.
Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, then allow to simmer, partially covered for 45 minutes.
For the topping:
Place the pancetta, ciabatta cubes and basil on a large baking sheet. The sheet needs to be large enough to hold everything in a single layer, use two sheets if necessary. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until all the ingredients are crisp.
When the soup is done, check to be sure that all the ciabatta cubes disintegrated. If not use a wire whisk or stick blender to break up any remaining pieces of bread.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve, topping each bowl with some of the ciabatta crouton, pancetta and basil garnish.
There you go crablings, a nice hearty soup that will not only help the "sickies" in the house get better, but will also satisfy the healthy residents. So until next time, zip up your coat, put on your hat and mittens and remember, you can do it, you can cook.