Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup

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Quick, easy, and oh so good. 

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Garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.

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The bread I used for this recipe is a pita type Arabic bread. That goes into the soup pot along with crushed tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, basil and chicken broth. 

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The bread is simmered with the soup base until softened, about 15 minutes, 


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then vigorously whisked into the soup base. You do not want to use a blender or an immersion blender, you want some un-whisked chunks of bread in there, they turn out dumpling like, nice and soft and pillowy  

I highly recommend using a pita type bread, It will hold up better in this soup. 

Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
    3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
    1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
    4 ounces hearty white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (3 cups)
    2 cups chicken broth
    1 sprig fresh basil plus 2 tablespoons chopped
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper 
    Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Combine oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until garlic is lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

    Stir in tomatoes, bread, broth, basil sprig, salt, and pepper and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer vigorously until bread has softened completely and soup has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Off heat, discard basil sprig. Whisk soup until bread has fully broken down and soup has thickened further, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with Parmesan and chopped basil, drizzle with extra oil, and serve.

     

    Cooks Country Magazine Dec/Jan 2020 edition

     

And that's that!


Coconut-Lemongrass-Braised Pork

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I don't know what to tell you other than your mouth will sing when you eat this dish. The braising liquid is made up of coconut, lemongrass, cardamom and curry, hits all the right notes, no? 
The recipe calls for the vegetables to be cooked separately which worked just fine because I pressure cooked the meat in the broth. Cooking the vegetables separately allows me to cook them to my preference, I like them a bit on the firm side. 

I didn't have the celery root, nor the fresh lemongrass but I did have lemongrass powder, so after a bit of research, I found that I can use one teaspoon of the lemongrass powder for one stalk of lemongrass, so happy I had it on hand. 

The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook Around My French Table she states that sometimes when she doesn't have time to cook the vegetables, she adds some frozen peas to the pot at the end, or leaves it as is. 

Coconut-Lemongrass-Braised Pork

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or olive oil
  • 3 pounds boneless pork (pork butt is good here), cut into 1-to 2-inch cubes and patted dry, at room temperature
  • Coarse salt, such as sel gris or kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder (Mild is suggested)
  • Seeds from 6 cardamom pods
  • 6 white peppercorns
  • 6 coriander seeds
  • 2 strips lemon zest, white pith removed
  • 1/2 lemongrass stalk, tender center part only, pounded to crush it a bit
  • 1 15 1/2-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk, well stirred, plus more if needed
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 small potatoes, scrubbed or peeled and halved (optional)
  • 3 small carrots, trimmed, peeled, and halved (optional)
  • 3 small onions, halved (optional)
  • 1/2 small celery root, trimmed, peeled, and cubed (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)

Directions

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

    Put a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over high heat and add the oil. When it’s hot, toss in some of the pork—don’t crowd the pan—and cook, stirring, until the pieces are golden on all sides. As the pieces are done, lift them out of the pot and place in a Dutch oven or other oven-going stew pot; season lightly with salt and pepper. Continue to brown the remainder of the pork.

    Put the Dutch oven over medium heat and add the spices, lemon zest, lemongrass, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir everything around until the spices are toasty—you’ll smell them—and then stir in the coconut milk and water. Bring to a boil, cover the pot well, and slide it into the oven.

    Allow the stew to braise undisturbed for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the pork is tender and cooked through, (if you plan to make the dish ahead, cook the pork for 15 to 20 minutes.)

    While the stew is in the oven, cook the vegetables, if you’re using them: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery root. Keep an eye on the pot, and remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon as they’re tender. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set aside until the pork is cooked.

    When the pork is done, put the Dutch oven over medium heat, add the vegetables, if you’ve got them, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and simmer just until the vegetables are heated through. If you think the sauce needs it, you can add a little more stirred coconut milk to the pot—it will heighten the braise’s coconut flavor and thin the sauce (which is not particularly thick). Taste for salt and pepper, add a teaspoon of honey, if you’d like, and serve.

    MAKES 6 SERVINGS

    SERVING Because the sauce is so good and so plentiful, you’ll want something to capture it—bread is an option, of course, but boiled rice or egg noodles are naturals as well.

    STORING Like all stews, this one is very good the next day. If you want to make it ahead, cook the pork for a slightly shorter time, so that you don’t overcook it when you reheat it. If you’ve got leftovers, remove the pork, reheat the sauce, and when it’s hot, add the pork and simmer just long enough to warm it through.
    Around My French Table Cookbook: Dorie Greenspan

And that's that!