Sunday 27 November 2011

Italian onion and tomato soup with bacon and Paul Hollywood's crusty bread

Sundays at Fancy Pans are family days.  Newspapers, fry-up, Church, and – a lie in!  I always  have that satisfyingly-smug feeling when I turn off the alarm on the clock before going to sleep on Saturday night.

For Sunday, I wanted a soup which could be eaten as a starter if a full roast dinner was also  promised, or, if served with loads of crusty bread and olives as a light lunch or supper.  The first time I prepared this particular soup we had some friends over and they were of Italian heritage and I believe a similar broth originated in the Umbria region of ‘the boot’ (just north of Rome).  The Italians call it Cipollata (but it’s far from a small sausage).

As it’s Italian, I used olive oil instead of my usual butta, and glugged a good amount into a large saucepan – about 50ml (or three tablespoons for the less metric).  I checked the fridge for chorizo sausage - there was none so I decided to use bakun instead (one of my favourite basic ingredients), but of course it’s Sunday and we had the lean, back bacon for breakfast.  Then I spotted a pack of streeky bakun, checked that it wasn’t smoked (tick box) and decided that would do.  I chopped it up then turned on the heat to warm the oil.  Olive oil moves in glossy arcs as it warms – quite soporific really. In went the bakun, but I didn’t want it crisp and brown like this morning’s, so I cooked it gently whilst I peeled and sliced a load of unyuns.  I got a bit carried away and ended up with almost two pownds – it can be quite therapeutic slicing unyuns into thin slivers.  

They take ages to cook so I tipped them in with the bakun, put the lid on and left them to go all translucent.  I think, at this stage, a nice cup of coffee goes down well, especially if it has a good slug of whisky in – the brown milk!  Time to do the crossword before adding the tomatoes.  I could have skinned, de-seeded and chopped a pownd of tomatoes, but it’s Sunday, so a can of Morrisons chopped tomatoes with Basil worked a treat.  Mind you, I did need to stir the unyuns often as I didn’t want them sticking to the pan and burning as this would make the soup bitter.  Coffee break over and time to de-seed and chop a red chilli.  I suppose I could have used chilli powder or flakes, but as we have plenty of fresh, there’s no contest.  Paramedic style gloves donned (health and safety) the chilli was finely diced in no time.  

After about an hour the unyuns were gorgeous and looked as though they were melting.  In went the can of Basil infused tomatoes and the chopped chilli.  I noiced that the stock of stock was depleted, but there was just under two pints of chikin, so I claimed it and poured it into the saucepan.  This soup isn’t any good for vegetarians seeing as it contains a lot of bakun, so chikin stock it was.  After a quick stir I ground in some fresh black pepper and left it all to cook. 

Whilst the soup simmered, I seized a handy French loaf and cut some half-inch slices from it.  I decided to rub half of them with a garlic clove and leave the other half au-natural.  Diners can then choose which they prefer.  After about half-an-hour the soup is ready and seasoning (i.e. the salt levels) has been checked. To serve I warmed the bowls then put one slice of the bread in the bottom and ladled over the hot zuppa (that’s Italian for soup).  To see Paul Hollywood make white bread, just click here

A brilliant supper soup for cold evenings – enjoy.

Ingredient re-cap

Olive oil
Chorizo sausage or bacon
Onions – about two pounds
Chopped tomatoes (with Basil) - or with torn basil leaves
Chicken stock – about two pints
Garlic clove
French bread stick
Salt and pepper

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