Pure summer comfort
Question:What happens when you mix one nations ancestry with another nation´s deeply rooted traditions?
Answer:One nation´s flavours are in the blood and the other nations are in the method.
There is a classic example of this in a soup most aptly named Réconfort.The name comes from the French word to comfort and restore the body and soul.At first glance this soup appears to be traditionally French,full of bright flavours and even brighter colours but bears a huge similarity to a classic Italian minestrone.Making this soup brought to mind one of my favourite Songs from "Into the Woods" when Stephen Sondheim gave Jack´s mother the wonderful lyrics
Slotted spoons don´t hold much soup..
....but a slotted spoon can catch the potato!In terms of a Réconfort soup the particular recipe would not include potato but should include some sort of meat,whether it be meatballs as in this version,shredded chicken or perhaps beef. I suppose it depends what time of year you are serving it and how hearty you intend it to be.This incarnation features veal meatballs.It makes a lovely light summery supper with a difference, and I feel it restores body and soul perfectly.
2 white onions,peeled and halved
1 red onion
2 celery stalks,halved
5 garlic cloves
3 large ripe fresh tomatoes,peeled,seeded and coarsely chopped
7oz8200g) parmigiano reggiano rinds
8 asparagus spears,halved
Flor de sal
5oz(140g) orecchiette pasta or other short pasta
9oz(250g) stale bread,cut into large cubes
generous 3/4 cup (200ml) milk
1lb 2 oz (500g) finely minced veal
teaspoon dried oregano
teaspoon dried basil
teaspoon dried parsley
teaspoon dried chilli flakes
teaspoon crushed garlic
Flor de sal
freshly ground black pepper
In a large pan,combine the onions,carrots,celery,garlic,tomatoes,parmesan rinds,and 2 litres of water.Cook over low heat for 30 minutes.Fish out the carrots and celery,slice,and set aside.Continue cooking for 2 hours.Strain through a fine mesh sieve and return to the pan.Cook over medium heat until reduced by one third,about 10 minutes.Add the sliced carrots and celery and the asparagus.Season to taste with salt and set aside.
Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil over medium heat.Add the pasta and cook until al dente.Drain and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the bread and milk and let soak until soft,about 5 minutes.Drain and squeeze out the excess liquid.Return to the bowl,add the veal,the dried herbs and seasonings and mix until well combined.Season with salt and pepper and mix again.Form 24 x 3/4" (2cm) meatballs.Bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat.Add the meatballs and cook for 10 minutes.Add the pasta.ladle the soup into bowls and serve.