One of my favorite things about winter cooking - one pot meals - which lend to hearty soups and natural kitchen meditations.
Recently, at a long-term course I am attending, a friend from Milan asked me what recipes I had for soup, in particular vegetarian recipes. Diligently I went home and searched through my newly organized recipe files - over a holiday break I reviewed all my recipes and reorganized them according to what course they are i.e. apero foods, vegetable side dishes, summer soups and salads, stews and hearty soups, etc. With a list on the spine of each binder indicating what courses are where I went directly to stews and hearty soups in search of something he might like. As I leafed through the pages, with vegetarian and if possible in Italian as my criteria, it came to me that for me soup is usually based on the reason I am making the soup and what ingredients I have under hand. From there I build the soup. Multi bean soups, vegetable soups, mushroom based, chicken based, Asian flavor, Italian, Turkish, etc. I want to meditate while I chop, clean and layer in the ingredients and then leave the soup on its own to simmer and gather taste.
Equipped with 3 actual recipes and this clarity about my own soup making, I went to the course the next day ready to share my thoughts. As we spoke in increasingly more animated tones, discovering we both basically did the same thing, another friend (also Milanese) joined us and added her thoughts, one of which is the recipe below.
A few days later, in honor of her birthday I made this soup and loved it! My husband, Claudio, whose typical response to soup is either silent resignation or some comment about it being "liquid" (the man prefers his liquid in grape form, an Italian at the core) took the time to comment (he had eaten it for lunch at work the day after I made it), "That soup you made was fantastic." For him, a comment like this is ....significant.
The best part, this is one of the easiest soups I have yet to make. Below the recipe as it was given to me (as well you can click the title for a pdf of the recipe), followed by my comments and tweeks. As we prepare to say farewell to the year of the rooster, honor his hen friends and enjoy this soup.