This simple soup recipe has literally change my life. It’s nutritious and yummy, and I can have a hot pot of it ready at 6pm, even after a full day of toddler wrangling. It’s a slow-cooking, one pot soup that’s quick to prepare, simmers self-sufficiently for hours (creating its own stock in the process), and tenderises any meat to melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness! All you need is 5 child-free minutes to get it started and the soup will cook itself – perfect for mums like me who have velcro kids!
The basic soup technique comes from two different Italian grandmothers, passed on to me by Aubrey (our social media manager), and my friend Giulia. Thanks to these two gems and their clever nonnas, dinnertime is a much more organised, and delicious, affair! Here is a version of this traditional recipe, which you can adjust to your tastes and available ingredients.
3 litres water
Meat of your choice (I like to use steaks or chicken drumsticks)
2 stick of celery
1 brown onion
1–2 garlic cloves
2 handfuls of risoni or pastini
Several generous pinches of salt and pepper, to taste
- Bring water to boil in a large soup pot and then reduce to a simmer.
- Add the meat.
- Peel the potatoes, carrots, garlic and onion – but leave all vegetables whole – and add these to the pot along with your whole celery sticks and the salt and pepper.
- Add some salt, half cover the pot and simmer on a low heat for several hours, periodically checking it and scooping out any foam that might gather on the surface. I found three hours was the perfect length of time to ensure a tasty broth and tender meat.
- Next, scoop all your meat and vegetables out of the broth and into a bowl, and gently dice everything up. Remove any meat bones and discard. Return all the ingredients to the soup.
- Maintaining a steady simmer, add the risoni or pastini and cook until tender. Serve!
- Along with red meat, Aubrey’s nonna likes to add homemade meatballs, dropping these in raw to cook slowly in the soup.
- After scooping out all your meat and vegetables, you can strain the broth through a sieve to achieve a clear consomme, to which you can then return the chopped ingredients.
- Risoni or pastini can be substituted for grains like barley, or even rice. Adding these ingredients gives the soup more body, and makes for a very hearty meal.
- Herbs like basil and parsley can be added along with your vegetables at the start for extra flavour.
- Adding whole peppercorns at the start will give the soup a bit of bite – just remember to strain them out before serving!
- Instead of chopping up all the cooked meat and vegetables, you can puree the whole lot for a creamy-style soup. Great for babies or toddlers who don’t like to see the vegetables they’re eating!
- Add green vegetables when you add the pasta – peas, beans and leafy vegetables are delicious.