Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Flavors of Florence

As I’m sure is the case with many people, on cold days I sometimes get the desire to make a pot of soup. But hold on; don’t mistake me. Cooking—and that includes soup—is not a particular skill I enjoy, which has been mentioned in earlier postings on the subject of cookery. In the words of one famous Florentine, “I am still learning.” (Michelangelo at age 87) In spite of that limitation, I won’t go as far as calling myself helpless in the kitchen, and from time to time the results of my mixing and stirring turn out to be pretty good, at least.

Never having been to Florence, Italy, I can’t say with any certainty what kind of soup the people of that city prefer, or if one of them might be the recipe I myself call Florentine. But it is a pretty name and a soup worthy of that city’s history and reputation.

Try as I might, how the recipe for Tomato Florentine Soup came to me is lost from memory. It could be one that my sister sent on to me. A good part of what I know about cooking came from her, and this soup impresses me as something she could have concocted. It isn’t one of those soups that needs hours and hours of simmering to meld and concentrate the flavors. Neither is the list of ingredients exotic or elaborate. It is an easy pot to make, and will surprise you with its rich, bisque-like flavor.

Tomato Florentine Soup

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1/2 cup of diced onion

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/3 cup of white wine

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons of celery salt

2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning

2 teaspoons of dried basil (fresh basil is better)

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

2 tablespoons of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 tablespoon of granulated chicken bouillon

3 tablespoons of flour

3 cups of V-8 juice

2 28 ounce cans (4 400 gram cans) of diced tomatoes with juice

6 cups of whole milk

1 cup of heavy cream (light cream is my preference)

10 ounces of fresh spinach, chopped (about 1 bundle)

2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped

In a large soup pot heat the oil and saute the onions and garlic until they turn golden. Add the wine, bay leaf, celery salt, basil, Italian seasoning, and salt & pepper. Bring this mix to a boil, allowing it to reduce for ten minutes. Next, add the sugar, nutmeg and chicken base and stir well. Stir in the flour to thicken the mixture. Slowly add the V-8 juice, stirring over medium heat, until this ‘sauce’ is smooth. Add the chopped tomatoes and the milk. Let the soup simmer for thirty minutes. Add the heavy (or light) cream, the chopped spinach and the basil. Simmer another ten to fifteen minutes and it is ready to serve.

This makes a large amount of soup, and since it is a rich soup, small servings are probably sufficient. I have it with a green salad, some warm French bread and a glass of red wine. It makes a delicious and filling dinner on a cold night.

1 comment:

  1. We are getting a snow storm on Tuesday. II think I will give it a try.


About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America