Saturday, 2 March 2013

PASTA, POTATO AND ONION SOUP



This is a hearty winter kind of soup. Thick, tasty and creamy, but without dairy. Rosemary and parsley add green flavours and give the soup a light green colour. Vegetable broth adds another dimension of flavour, making the soup irresistible. You just want another and yet another bowl. You want to enjoy those potatoes and pasta mixed in the delicious thick broth. Carb heaven! Comfort food!

It's an inexpensive meal, made with ingredients everyone almost always has on hand and it has a long history in my family. This was one of my maternal grandfather’s favourite soups. We don’t know where he came across the recipe, but he taught my grandmother how to cook it. Unusual, because pappou, as we, his grandchildren called him, was never known to go near a stove. He farmed, he made prize-winning wine, he was a beekeeper, but he never cooked. Pappou often asked my grandmother to make this soup for him, and she did, but eventually, she started adding more ingredients to enhance its flavour. 

World War II was a time when most Greeks were close to starvation.  Grandmother often prepared a version of this soup by using water, potatoes and a little rice or pasta. The soup helped ease her family’s hunger during the Axis occupation.

I learned to cook pasta and potato soup by watching my mother, and now I make my own version, especially when, like today, it’s very cold outside. Eating it nourishes me, but it also connects me to my past.  This soup is really quick and easy to make, but it’s a life-giving soup because a long time ago it sustained folk during unfortunate times.  So thumbs up for this pasta potato (and onion) soup, and please pass me another bowl.

Ingredients:

4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic chopped well
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 nice size Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut in half - it will be used as a garnish
salt and pepper to taste
leaves from one sprig of rosemary, chopped
1/4 bunch of parsley
4 cups vegetable broth or water
1/2 pound vermicelli pasta, broken up - for best results you will need a thin pasta! 

Directions:
  • In a large soup pot heat the olive oil and add the diced potatoes, the onion, the rosemary leaves, the celery and the garlic.  
  • Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, mixing well to incorporate the ingredients with the olive oil.
  • Add the liquid and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and add the salt, the pepper, the Yukon gold potato and the parsley. Cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
  • Drop the pasta into a pot of boiling water and cook according to directions.
  • Remove the Yukon gold potato from the soup and reserve it.  When it's cool enough to handle cut it into small cubes. 
  • With an immersion blender puree the rest of the soup.
  • Add the cooked pasta and the reserved diced Yukon gold potato. 
  • Garnish with some rosemary and olive oil.