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A year later, I virtually set off again towards Rieti to meet with bloggers, journalists and cooking enthusiasts to discover other products of the Alta Valle del Velino area through the first recipe: Chestnut and grass pea soup.

This soup is naturally gluten-free and the presence of pulses helps to better control the carbohydrates provided by dried chestnuts and potatoes, foods that require some attention for proper blood sugar management.

The journey of flavours in the heart of Italy: Chestnut and grass pea soup

zuppa di castagne e cicerchie

The local tourism and culture project was designed by the Rieti Viterbo Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Azienda Speciale Centro Italia Rieti and is aimed at highlighting the area’s excellence. Also look at the recipes cooked last year: Amatriciana and Pulse pasta with Rascino lentils.

The main ingredients of Chestnut and grass pea soup are two types of chestnuts and dried grass peas.

The chestnuts of the Rieti area are Chestnuts from Antrodoco and Rossa del Cicolano, both valuable varieties that have always been linked to the economy of these areas and thus one of the main components of the diet of mountain populations along with the rich selection of pulses. In our soup, we used dried chestnuts from Atrodoco, left to soak in water for about half an hour, and partly sliced raw to add a delicious fresh scent and a crunchy touch to the preparation.

The grass pea or Indian pea (an expression that betrays its provenance from distant lands) is a pulse whose cultivation is valuable in areas prone to drought and famine, so it ensured subsistence for farmers even in years when other products failed to bear fruit, thus important despite the difficult harvest.

Grass peas have a sweet taste, similar to that of chickpeas, that easily conquers the palate, but since they grow on stony ground it is important to subject them to a careful visual inspection before putting them in the pot: restaurants in this part of Italy are often equipped with a good insurance policy to cover any expenses for a dentist’s surgery after a tasty stop at the table!

So are you ready to discover the heart of Italy with another recipe? Let’s arm ourselves with pots and ingredients and cook it together.

Chestnut and grass pea soup

16.04 g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 1.2 litres of water
  • 300g dried grass peas (soak for at least 8 hours)
  • 100g dried chestnuts (soak for 1 hour)
  • 100g potatoes
  • 20g extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for serving
  • 4 whole chestnuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • bay leaf
  • parsley
  • rosemary
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

  1. Put extra virgin olive oil in a pan and season with chopped garlic and parsley. Add the soaked and well-drained grass peas and allow them to gain flavour for a few minutes, stirring them with a wooden spoon.
  2. Add water and cook for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the soaked dried chestnuts for about 20 minutes in lightly salted water with a bay leaf. Drain and roughly chop them, then add them to the grass peas together with the diced potatoes and finish cooking.
  4. Take 2 ladles of soup and put them in a blender, then pour the resulting cream back into the soup so that the mixture is nicely thick.
  5. Peel the raw chestnuts, cut them into thin slices and serve the soup with the chestnut slices, chopped rosemary and parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Complete with bread croutons to your taste.

zuppa di castagne e cicerchie

Version with gluten of Chestnut and grass pea soup

The recipe contains only naturally gluten free ingredients, so no adaptation is necessary for its version with gluten.

 

If winter means soups, soups in January mean winter vegetables, of which cabbage and potatoes are surely the most common example, and this Cabbage, potato and shallot soup is also the symbol of peasant cuisine par excellence, enriched with an idea for a zero waste recipe.

Even if the Christmas holidays of 2020 were not all about socialising and big family meals, the rich menus of tradition are too good not to tempt us, and so, as a recipe for Epiphany that makes us turn off the lights of celebrations, I propose a simple dish, prepared with what is hardly missing in the kitchen in winter: the long-lived vegetables that love the cold and dark winter days, namely cabbage, potatoes and various onions.

Added to this is also a necessity. After preparing kilos and kilos of succulent fillings made from stewed meat and Parmigiano Reggiano of two different maturations for Anolini or Cappelletti alla parmigiana, my fridge is full of cheese rinds that it would be sacrilegious to throw away, so I urgently need ideas on how to make the most out of them, and soups are always a good solution.

And since it is customary to consume pulses, particularly lentils, as a wish for wealth and abundance for the New Year, I thought I would complete the soup by adding Barilla Legumottithe fantastic grains made with lentil, chickpea and pea flour, which in just 9 minutes give us the full and authentic flavour of pulses in the form of pasta: you know I am a real fan of Legumotti, which I have also proposed in other mouth-watering recipes.

With the simplicity of a zero waste dish, vegetarian and prepared with few ingredients, I wish you a 2021 of health, serenity and… lots of work for everyone!

Le verdure della zuppa

Cabbage, potato and shallot soup

6.65g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 1lt vegetable stock
  • 500g cabbage
  • 230g potato
  • 125g Barilla Legumotti*
  • 100g shallot
  • 50g rinds of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper
  • salt

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Cut the shallot into thin slices and brown it in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil. Add the finely diced potatoes and chopped garlic clove and season for a few minutes. Finally, add the cabbage cut into strips, mix well and cover with the vegetable stock.
  2. Also add the Parmesan cheese rinds: use a knife to scrape the outer surface to remove any dust, then cut them into pieces of a few centimetres. Put the lid on and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Adjust salt, throw the Legumotti into the soup and add vegetable stock if there is not enough liquid to cook.
  4. Serve the soup with a drizzle of oil and a grinding of pepper.

Zuppa di cavoli, patate e scalogno

Version with gluten

This recipe is naturally gluten-free.

 

 

Here in the Po Valley, the fog has been with us for a few days and do you know what dish I love on these days? Onion soup au gratin.

Hot, fragrant, with melted Pecorino cheese and crispy on the surface, the whole family loves it and it is perfect as a one-course meal.

For the onion soup au gratin, you will only need very few ingredients, a diving mask (I’m joking of course, but it’s the only tool to keep you from crying while slicing the large amount of onions you need!) and a cooking time of 40 minutes, which you will have to plan. After that, enjoy this fantastic dish!

I forgot, you can also follow the recipe step by step in the video that kept us company in the spring lockdown: enjoy the video.

Onion soup au gratin   

11.88g carbohydrates per 100g

 Ingredients

  • 1kg white onions
  • 1lt vegetable or meat stock
  • 200g fresh Pecorino cheese
  • 4 slices of bread** (in my case 160g, i.e. 40g per slice)
  • 50g matured Pecorino cheese
  • 30g extra virgin olive oil
  • 20g brown rice flour*
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation

  1. Peel the onions and cut them into very thin slices, perhaps with the help of a mandoline. Heat the oil in a crock pot, add the onions, salt and let them stew slowly with the lid on for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Sprinkle the onions with the sifted flour, stir well so that no lumps form, pour in the boiling stock, cover the pan again and cook for another 40 minutes.
  3. Divide the soup among 4 ovenproof single-portion bowls, cover them with a slice of toasted bread with a slice of fresh Pecorino cheese and put the bowls under the oven grill until the cheese has melted. Once removed from the oven, top with grated matured Pecorino cheese and a grinding of pepper.

zuppa di cipolle gratinata

Onion soup au gratin ready to eat

Version with gluten

Simply replace the gluten-free bread with standard bread.

Cream of escarole with Speck and croutons is a perfect idea for warm dinners in the first cold days of autumn. Being vegetable-based, the cream itself is naturally gluten free and has very low carbohydrate content, possibly offset by the addition of fragrant and tasty croutons.

Escarole cream is very much appreciated by those who like slightly bitter flavours, while it might not appeal to children who are not used to these notes: my children love it and enjoy alternating Speck with cubes of sweet Salame Felino  (something that Parma’s homes almost always have in stock) which helps to balance the dish.

The version I propose is also lactose and egg free. If you like, and always lactose free, you can also season it with Parmesan cheese slivers and a few walnuts for a completely different taste.

In the calculation of carbohydrates, I have not considered croutons because the amount added to the escarole cream may vary greatly, as can the type of bread we decide to use to prepare them: personally, I am partial to wholemeal bread, such as the Dark bread with flax seedswhich allows us to obtain very fragrant croutons.

So with the cold weather approaching, be prepared that we won’t run out of creams and soups!

Escarole Cream with Speak and croutons   

2.70g carbohydrates per 100g without croutons

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 1kg escarole
  • 300g leek
  • 300g vegetable stock
  • 120g Speck in strips*
  • 30g extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for croutons

  • 3 slices of wholemeal bread**
  • 30g extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, pepper, dried marjoram

Preparation

  1. Slice the leeks and sautée them in a large saucepan with extra virgin olive oil and a few whole chilli peppers, which you will then remove before blending; add the escarole cut into strips, allow it to take on flavour for about 5 minutes, then add 2 ladles of stock, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Transfer everything into the jar of a food processor and blend to a fairly thick cream; season with salt and pepper. Should the cream be too runny, return it to the heat and let it thicken.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the croutons. Cut the bread slices into 2cm pieces. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the bread pieces and let them toast slowly until crispy. Towards the end, season with salt, pepper and a sprinkling of marjoram, then leave to season and turn off the heat.
  3. Serve the escarole cream in soup plates and complete with the Speck in strips, croutons and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Crema di scarola con speck e crostini

Version with gluten of Escarole cream with Speak and croutons

The recipe contains only naturally gluten free ingredients except for the croutons, so replace the gluten free croutons with standard croutons.