Tortellini al Brodo (Tortellini in Broth)
About 200 tortellini pieces, depending on size
150 g prosciutto crudo (5 ounces)
150 g mortadella (5 ounces)
50 g parmigiano cheese (1.75 ounces)
500 g unbleached all-purpose flour (1.1 lb)
Pinch of salt
Beef broth, from the recipe for Gran Bollito Misto in Main Dishes
1. Combine the prosciutto crudo, mortadella and sausage in a blender and blend until everything is finely chopped and well blended. Add the two eggs and the parmigiano and blend well. Set aside.
2. On a clean counter, shape the flour into a mound and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and salt to the well. Beat the eggs lightly with a fork, drawing flour as you go, until the eggs are mixed and slightly thickened. Using your fingertips, gradually incorporate the flour into the eggs and blend into a smooth dough.
3. Knead the dough until satiny and very elastic, about 10 minutes. With a rolling pin or pasta machine, roll out thin sheets of pasta. The pasta needs to remain moist, so cover the sheets with plastic wrap as you work.
4. Cut the pasta into 5 cm rounds using a biscuit cutter. Place a 1/4 tsp of the meat filling in the center of each round, fold each round in half and seal the edges. Bring the tails of the half circle together, overlapping them and twist one over the other. At this point you can freeze any pasta you want as indicated above or proceed to cook them in the meat broth.
5. Bring the beef broth to a boil, then drop the tortellini into the broth. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered. The tortellini should float to the surface once they are done, around 5 minutes. Make sure to not overcrowd the pot; if you must, cook the pasta in batches. (To cook frozen pasta, just drop the still frozen tortellini into the boiling broth and cook for an extra minute or two.)
Tuscan Bean Soup with Parmigiano Toasts
1 tbsp olive oil
500 g smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 1/4 cups chopped fennel
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 litre chicken broth
500 g diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sage
250 g cooked cannellini beans (liquid reserved)
1/4 cup shredded parmigiano cheese
12 slices (1/2-inch-thick) baguette, cut diagonally
1. In a 3 litre saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the sausage over medium heat. Cook sausage until heated through, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove sausage and drain drippings, reserving 1 tbsp drippings in pan.
2. Add the fennel and onion to pan; sauté until softened, about 10 minutes.
3. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, pepper and sage. Cook 10 minutes.
4. Add cannellini beans with reserved liquid and cooked sausage. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes more.
5. Heat grill. Mound 2 teaspoons parmigiano cheese on each bread slice and place on baking sheet. Grill until cheese and bread are lightly toasted, about 1 to 2 minutes.
6. Divide soup among 6 soup bowls; serve with toasts.
Ribollita means reboiled. Traditionally, ribollita is a bread-thickened vegetable soup.
1 cup dry cannellini beans
1 large red onion, sliced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 potatoes, diced
10 zucchini, diced
1 1/2 cups silver beet (swiss chard), shredded
1 savoy cabbage, shredded
1 bunch kale, shredded
salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
2 day old stale Tuscan (or woodfired style) white bread
1. Soak beans overnight and then cook over low heat. It will take approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours for them to cook.
2. In a pan, gently fry the onion. Add the other vegetables, with the exception of the cabbage, kale and beans. When the vegetables have sweated out their juice, cover with hot water and then add the cabbage and kale. Cover and simmer for an hour over medium heat.
3. Add cooked beans (half whole and half puréed), salt and pepper. Leave to simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring frequently because the beans tend to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste.
4. Slice stale bread and, in an earthenware casserole, alternate layers of bread with the soup until the bread is soaked. Let rest for one day.
5. To serve, remove the desired quantity from the casserole and re-boil (ribollita) it.
Pappa al Pomodoro
500 g (about 2 cups) peeled tomatoes, chopped
250 g (about 1/2 lb) stale bread (preferably Tuscan bread), cut into smallish pieces
1 litre (about 4 cups) vegetable broth, warmed
4 cloves of garlic, minced
basil, chopped coarsely
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (you can also use seasoned or spicy oil)
salt and pepper
1. Place the stale bread in a large bowl and pour the warm broth over it, cover and set aside for at least 1 hour.
2. Over medium heat and in a wide pot, pour the oil and sauté the garlic. Add the tomatoes and a dash of salt and pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
3. Go back to your bread, which should have absorbed most of the broth. Add the bread to the pot, squeezing it a bit with your hand as you do so to eliminate any excess broth. Cook for at least 15 minutes, stirring every so often with a wooden spoon.
4. Serve warm, adding a bit of fresh cut basil and a swirl of good olive oil on top. And remember, always tear fresh basil with your hands, never cut with a blade!
The Maremma, the coastal region of Tuscany extending from Livorno to the border between Tuscany and Lazio, is famous for its livestock, beaches and Acquacotta, literally cooked water. The dish is generally served as a one course meal, and in the past was eaten in the field by shepherds and stockmen.
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 capsicum, chopped into small slices
1 kg (2 lbs) beet greens or spinach, stemmed, washed and coarsely chopped
500 g (1 lb) peeled, chopped ripe tomatoes (canned will do in a pinch)
6 cups (1.5 litres) boiling water
salt to taste
1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
Slices of toasted Italian bread
1. Heat oil in a saucepan, add the onions, celery, carrot and capsicum and cook until onions are translucent. Add the greens and cook cook over low heat until the greens have wilted.
2. Add tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes, then add the boiling water. Check the seasoning, and simmer for another twenty minutes.
3. In the meantime, mix eggs and cheese together. Line the bottoms of 6 soup bowls with thinly sliced toasted bread and spoon the beaten egg mixture over the bread. Stir the soup well and ladle it into the bowls