Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.
SERVES 6 TO 8
Cibreo is a fabulous restaurant in Florence and one where I have had some really scrumptious meals. One of my favorite recipes from their kitchen is this colorful, pureed yellow pepper soup; it is all warmth and sunshine on a dreary winter's day. I like to add a twist and surprise the diner with a thin layer of spinach puree in the bottom of the bowl!
1 pound spinach, washed and stemmed
1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 meaty yellow peppers (about 1 3/4 pounds), seeded and cut into strips
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 cups hot vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Cook the spinach in a large soup pot with no additional water just until it is wilted. Drain it and partially squeeze it dry. Transfer the spinach to a food processor and puree it with the milk or heavy cream. The puree should not be too thick, but more like the consistency of fruit sauce. Stir in the nutmeg and keep the spinach warm. This step can be done two days ahead and refrigerated. Reheat it when ready to serve the soup.
Finely mince the carrot, onion, and celery together and cook them in the olive oil in a small sauté pan until they are very soft. Set aside.
Put the peppers and potatoes in the same pot used to the cook the spinach. Cover them with the broth. Cook covered until very soft, about 25 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor in batches along with the carrot mixture and puree until smooth. Transfer the mixture back to the soup pot and stir in the salt and lemon juice. If the soup seems too thick, thin it down with a little milk.
When ready to serve, reheat the spinach sauce and spoon a thin layer of it in the base of individual soup bowls. Carefully ladle the soup over the spinach and garnish with fried bread croutons if desired. Or cut out some raw red pepper shapes with a canapé cutter and float on top of the soup.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA IN TUSCANY by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2003.