So, I love Italy.
I love the history, the culture, the language, the climate, the people, the fashion and, of course, the food!
Rome, Siena, Venice, Naples, Florence, Arezzo…I would be hard pressed to choose my favourite part of Italy! All I know is that it is one of my most favourite places in the world.
I studied Classics and Archaeology whilst I was at university – with an emphasis on the ancient Romans and Greeks. Through my degree I was fortunate enough to be able to work for two summers excavating Ostia Antica (the ancient seaport of Rome).
These were two of my most favourite summers. Getting absolutely filthy digging in the ruins of the ancient city during the day. Basking in the sunshine, drinking peroni on our days off. Strolling through the remains of the old city in our breaks. Man, the memories I made during this time are some of my most favourite. Ever.
Lots of my cooking is influenced by my travels, especially my trips to Italy. My Tuscan-inspired Vegetable and Orzo soup is full of hearty Italian flavours. It is sort of a cross between a stew and a soup. Packed with fresh vegetables. Perfect for keeping snuggly warm this winter. Perfect for sustaining a crew of hungry archaeologists 😉
Orzo is an interesting little pasta. It looks like rice, but it is actually tiny pasta shaped into small grains. It can be used in risotto or added to soups!
This recipe makes around 6 servings, and is suitable for vegans! It makes a great dinner for a crowd, leftovers can be enjoyed for lunch the next day! It works out to be around approximately 161 calories per serving.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1 white onion (diced)
- 1 medium leek (sliced)
- 1 spring onion (sliced)
- 1 medium courgette (sliced into half moons)
- 2 medium carrots (sliced into discs)
- 10 cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 200 g chestnut mushrooms (sliced)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp porcini powder or four slices of dried porcini mushrooms.
- small bunch of fresh chopped parsley (finely chopped)
- salt and pepper to taste
- one sprig of fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 stock cubes
- 6 mugs water
- 100g dry Orzo
- Large handful of fresh spinach
Cook time: 25 minutes in total.
- Prep your vegetables as indicated above.
- Heat the olive oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add the onions, garlic and leeks and cook until softened over a medium heat. Do not brown, you are looking for the onions and leeks to become translucent.
- Add the carrots, courgettes, mushrooms and tomatoes. Stir in the seasoning: oregano, rosemary, porcini powder, fresh thyme and half the parsley. Cook for five minutes, stirring to ensure the ingredients do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the water and the stock cubes and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a further five minutes.
- Add the orzo and spinach and simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve and garnish with the leftover parsley!
So in summation: visit Italy and eat soup. You won’t regret it. Trust me.