I AM not going to harp on about the weather saying how cold it can get over here in the UK. To be honest the cold season presents us with the opportunity to enjoy a tasty soup or two without sweating it out over dinner table. Rather, I am enjoying the warm rich tasty root vegetables with chunks of crusty bread t satisfy the soul and winter blues.
Soups have been served for centuries as a meal on it’s own or as a starter to many great feast. In the kitchen we offer a small soup to kick of the dining experience, a soup that is not too thick or too thin but just right to open up the palate and liven up the taste buds. The good ol’ soup is also a great way to get plenty of vitamins and essential dietary requirements each week. The benefit a soup has is the nutrients of the vegetable are not lost down the sink as we blend or leave the ingredients to cook and serve together.
Energy bursting dried beans, peas and pulses are all thrown into this week’s recipe. Packed full of energy and goodness, gladiators (those long forgotten he-men) were avid fans of the farro soup to give them that fighting energy and nutrients to live another day and so can we.
I was given this recipe from my boss in Italy many years ago and each year I always make a batch for the freezer during the cold winter months. A soup can be made without fuss and won’t break the bank. As I have said in previous issues, the fruit and veg stands in London offering seasonal vegetables at discount prices is the ideal place to start.
Grab carrots, turnips, onions, carrots, greens – almost anything can be made into soup. Give them a good wash and what is even better, most vegetables can be cooked with the skins on where most of the flavour is stored.
Chris’s Quick Tip
Just a quick note — when you get a tasty barbeque chook to feed the housemates at home, save the bones and carcass! I love to reserve the roast chicken carcass for the next evening’s meal. Place the chicken in a large pot, fill with water and root vegetables, garlic, thyme and boil for an hour or so, strain, season and then sit back to a tasty chicken and vegetable soup.
However for this soup below, farro or pearl barley can be purchased in most supermarkets these days. If you cannot find any, chickpeas will also work just fine. Enjoy and happy cooking!
Oxtail and farro soup from Mario in Italia’s Porto Recanati
What you need
350g of oxtail from your butcher
1 medium onion diced into small cubes
2 carrots diced as above
2 sticks of celery diced
2 ltrs of good quality light brown chicken stock
5 sprigs of thyme
3 cloves of garlic
2 cups of farro
1 tomato diced as before
What to do
Take a large soup pot and sauté off the oxtail over medium heat. Have the bones browned all over. Throw in the vegetable and herbs. Sauté for five minutes until the ingredients become aromatic.
Add the chicken stock and turn the heat down to low and allow the soup to cook for one hour. Remove any fat or scum on the surface of the soup. After one hour add the farro to the soup and cook for another 45min-one hour or until the meat is falling of the bone.
Season the soup and serve with a thick crusty wedge of bread