Navajo Corn Soup (with a twist) This recipe calls for salt pork. I replaced it with pancetta.
Cut the pork into bite sized pieces, season and brown it with the pancetta. Do this in batches so the meat browns and doesn’t steam. If there are any bones, brown then too. When done, remove the meat and sauté the onion, add peppers, garlic & oregano and cook until softened.
Return meat to pot. Add stock and simmer covered for 1 hour. Remove any bones, taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in corn a few minutes before serving.
If you’re using dried whole corn start with 1 and 1/2 cups. Wash it thoroughly, soak overnight, drain when ready to use. Boil dried corn until tender – about 3 and 1/2 hours in 6 cups water.
Here’s another home style dish that you don’t see on a restaurant menu. Our mother served soup or some type of minestra for dinner every evening along with a second course. Monday pasta patate, Tuesday pasta piselli, Wednesday pasta lenticchie, etc.
Pasta Lenticchie ala Piccola Nicolina
Pick over the lentils and rinse them in a scolo pasta (colander). Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart pot and add the carrots, garlic and celery. Sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the rinsed lentils, salt and pepper and stir. Add enough water to cover plus an inch and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until lentils are tender (about 40 minutes). Add the ditalini or broken spaghetti and cook for 8 minutes.
Note: always taste as you are cooking. Lentils and broken pasta vary in size therefore the cooking time may vary.
Green pepperonciniinfused oil is good to drizzle on top of each serving. Please do not sprinkle cheese on this.
My mother made zucchini soup often. My sister Rochelle still makes it and gave me the recipe.
In a pot, sauté a finely chopped onion in oil until tender and transparent. Don’t brown. Add the zucchini and just cover with hot water – about 2 cups. Season to taste. Simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Scramble the eggs with the grated cheese and add to pot. Add one cup of marina sauce (see below) and stir until well mixed. Serve with additional cheese.
Marinara Sauce –
¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic (cut in large pieces so they can easily be removed)
1 ½ lbs of fresh tomatoes or 1 28oz con of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
Salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
Lightly brown garlic in the olive oil. Add about a pound and a half of chopped fresh or one large can of crushed tomatoes (approx. 28 oz.). Add salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Simmer ½ hour on medium heat and it’s done.
Basically, minestra is soupy pasta with vegetables. The vegetables can include broccoli, cauliflower, cecis, peas, lentils, beans or greens. The pasta is usually small, like tubes, shells or even broken spaghetti. The ingredients and combinations are up to you. An example of minestra is Pasta e Patate or the following pasta with escarole and beans from my sister Nicki. (If you need to distinguish between the soupy minestra pasta and pasta with say, tomato sauce or pesto, those are known as pasta asciutte, ‘dry pasta’ although it’s covered with sauce.)
Pasta con Scarola e Fagioli
On a cold winter night nothing warms you up like a bowl of minestra. It’s hearty, delicious and easy to prepare. My Mother served soup at every meal. This minestra was and still is one of my favorites.
1 head of escarole (rinse in cold water and cut into ½” strips)
Olive oil to drizzle in cooking pot
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
2 smoked ham hocks
1 can of cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2 lb. ditalini (short tubes)
Clean the escarole in cold water and cut into ½” strips. Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a 3 quart pot add the garlic cloves and remove them when they are brown and soft. Add the ham hocks to brown. Add water to cover the hocks and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about a half hour to forty-five minutes. Add the escarole and cook until softened about 15 minutes. Then add the rinsed cannellini beans and pasta. Cook until the pasta is done – about 10 minutes.
< Zuppa >
Zuppa is a broth which never includes pasta and usually has a slice of bread or biscotti in it. An example of this follows as Merlutze en Brode, a recipe from a restaurant, The Fisherman’s Wharf, that our family had in the 1950s. This style of preparation goes back to a time before tomatoes were common in Italian cuisine. Our chef, Michele, was proud of this one – so simple and so good.
Merlutze en Brode
¼ cup olive oil
3 thinly sliced garlic cloves
½ cup coarsely chopped parsley
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 medium sized whitings
2 day old Italian bread or fruzalle
Lightly sweat the garlic in oil. Add salt, black pepper and ½ of the parsley. Cut the whitings into 5 pieces each, including head and tail, add to pot and just cover with hot water. Remove the head and tail when they get soft. Continue simmering until the skin becomes loose enough to remove and you can lift out the spine and bones from the pieces of fish. Add more water if it gets too dry. Add the rest of the parsley just before serving. Put some bread or fruzalle in a bowl and cover with the fish broth.