Pumpkin Soup with Fried Sage Leaves

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Ciao from Italy everyone. I wanted to share a delicious autumn recipe with you today. I will be here until the end of October, and then I’ll head back to the US to vote in person. I have had a great time here, and I was able to shoot two chapters of my new cookbook La Fortezza Cookbook. See the recap of the summer shoot here and the autumn shoot here.

We bought all sorts of lovely fall props including a selection of amazing pumpkins. Italians love pumpkins. Who knew? I love pumpkins, too. I have an amazing pumpkin recipe coming in the new book.

But until then, I wanted to share my Italian pumpkin soup recipe. I have tons of sage in the garden, so whenever I can use it in a recipe, I do. I happen to love the taste of sage, it just says autumn to me.

It’s an easy recipe, and perfect as a Thanksgiving starter. Plus you can make it a couple of days in advance which lightens the workload on the day. Enjoy and let me know how it goes.

Pumpkin Soup with Fried Sage Leaves
Serves 4-6

You will need:
– 4-5 cups pumpkin cut into wedges, skin on (I use a small, 2-3 lb. Cinderella pumpkin or baking pumpkin)
– 3 carrots sliced
– 1 cup celery
– 1 cup chopped onion (*Note all the vegetables can be rough chunks as you will be blending them)
– 1 smashed garlic clove
– 3 tablespoons olive oil + 2 tablespoons for the pumpkin
– 1 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon salt for the pumpkin
– 2 sage leaves
– 3 cups water, or Vegetable stock
– 1/4 cup heavy cream
– 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1 lemon

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Cut the pumpkin into wedges, roughly 3-4 inch pieces. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, until pumpkin is soft with pierced. While the pumpkin is roasting, Place olive oil and carrots, celery, onion and garlic, sage, and salt into a Dutch oven. Over medium heat saute the vegetables until soft, add the water or stock. simmer about 20 minutes. Once the pumpkin is roasted, scrap the soft pumpkin flesh from the skin. Place the roasted pumpkin into the pot and remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, roughly blend the vegetables, add the nutmeg and the cream and juice of 1 lemon, blend until smooth. Place over heat for another 10 minutes on low heat. This can be made 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Fried Sage Leaves

You will need:

– 1 cup fresh sage leaves, washed and dried
– 1 cup of olive oil

Preparation:

In a heavy bottom pot, bring the oil to 325 degrees F, drop the dry leaves into the pot, fry for 2 minutes, place on a paper towel. These should be made as you warm the soup. Place the soup into bowls and garnish warm soup with 3-4 leaves.

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Watermelon Feta Salad

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Did you know Georgia is among the top four states for watermelon production in the U.S.? Texas, Georgia, Florida, and California produce nearly 70% of our watermelon crop each year. Watermelon season is right now, and local watermelon is likely plentiful at your local markets.

It also happens to be the perfect summer treat for a variety of recipes because it is naturally hydrating. After all, there’s a reason it’s called watermelon. The fruit is made up of 92% water. Perfect for scorching summer days!

Sweet watermelon pairs beautifully with tangy cheeses such as feta. This watermelon feta salad is a winner and a crowd-pleaser. Try it this weekend paired with grilled chicken or fish. It will be a light yet satisfying summer meal.

Watermelon Feta Salad
Serves 6
You will need:

– 4 cups cold cubed watermelon
– 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves cut in chiffonade
– 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
– 4 tablespoons Saba
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1/2 teaspoon salt

To prepare:

Arrange the cubed cold watermelon in a shallow platter. Sprinkle with basil, feta, saba, salt and olive oil. Serve immediately.

I prepare this salad right before we sit down to eat, so it stays cold, crisp, and fresh. If prepared in advance, be sure to keep it chilled until ready to serve.

Enjoy xx

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Vegetable Chermoula Soup

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I love making soup, especially during winter (and yes, it’s winter. Spring doesn’t start until March 19!). This vegetable chermoula soup is very hearty. The white beans and faro make it completely satisfying while the chermoula takes it over the edge in flavor. I put chermoula, a garlicky, herby sauce, on everything. It’s divine.

This recipe was taken from my cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties. I know when people think of parties, they tend to think of really decadent food, but there are actually many healthy recipes in my book. People want to leave full and satisfied, and belly-warming soup is a great way to achieve just that.

Vegetable Chermoula Soup
Serves 8

You will need:

– 2 garlic cloves minced
– 1/2 medium onion
– 1 cup diced carrot
– 1/2 cup diced celery
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 cup diced zucchini
– 1 cup diced sweet potato
– 1/2 cup red peppers *optional
– 2 cups chopped kale
– 8 cups vegetable stock + water as needed
– 1 can white beans or 1 cup soaked overnight, then rinsed
– 1 cup farro
– 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
– 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
– salt and pepper

To prepare:

In a large stockpot, saute garlic, onion, carrots and celery in olive oil, over medium heat until tender.
Add the vegetables and saute for 2 minutes. Next add stock, beans and water if needed, salt and pepper and chopped herbs. Simmer for 3 hours and add faro for the last 30 minutes.

Charmoula
You will need:

– 1 cup fresh Italian parsley
– 1 cup fresh cilantro
– 2 inch piece of ginger
– 3 cloves of garlic
– Juice of 1 lemon
– 1 cup of oil
– salt and pepper
– 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

To prepare:

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add all ingredients and pulse until it forms a loose smooth sauce, about 1 minute.

 

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Winter Staple: Chicken Noodle Soup

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While spring is just around the corner, we are still receiving our fair share of cold, blustery and rainy days in Atlanta. I mean, I have seriously never seen so much rain! This chicken noodle soup recipe is the perfect exclamation point for a chilly winter day. It’s bound to warm you up from the inside out.

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie. In fact, it’s from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties. Can you believe that I’m actually in Italy as we speak working on my third cookbook and my fourth book overall? Life is a dream.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves  8
 You will need:

– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 clove garlic minced
– 1 small yellow onion chopped
– 1 cup celery chopped
– 2 cups peeled carrots cut into coins
– 1 cup chopped parsley
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon pepper
– 6 cups chicken stock
– 2 cups of water
– 1 3-4 lb roasted chicken (speed up this recipe and use a rotisserie chicken!)
– 2 cups egg noodles

To prepare:

In a large stockpot, place olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, carrots, parsley and salt and pepper. Sauté on medium heat until translucent. Add stock, water, and entire chicken.

Simmer over low heat for 3 hours. Once the broth is golden, remove the pot from heat, and with a slotted spoon pull the chicken out of the soup. Pull all the meat off with a fork and tongs (careful not to burn yourself on the hot meat) place all the meat into the soup, add more stock if needed. Simmer for another 10 minutes with noodles.

Serve warm

*This can be made a couple of days ahead and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Photograph from Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY

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Homemade Bloody Mary for Mardi Gras

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Hi everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. I am sharing an excellent recipe of Annette’s, of course, that’s perfect for Mardi Gras festivities tomorrow: a classic bloody mary!

I grew up in Atlanta, but my grandparents lived in Mobile, Alabama which if you don’t know, is actually the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the U.S. Yes, you read that right; Mobile not New Orleans. As a result, I spent my childhood watching many parades and eating scores of moon pies and king cake. Now that I’m older, I like to enjoy Mardi Gras a little differently, and that’s with a Bloody Mary in hand!

As a Bloody Mary connoisseur, I am always on the hunt for the next great Bloody Mary mix, but being around Annette and learning from her has encouraged me to try my hand at making my own mix. She has an awesome recipe that I’m sharing with you guys today. Add your inebriant of choice (for me, it’s GIN!), and laissez les bons temps rouler!

Bloody Mary
Serves 1

You will need:
– 1 cup tomato
– 1 carrot
– small sliver of beet (mostly for color)
– 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
– 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
– 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
– 1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup ice
– 1/4 cup spinach
– 1 tablespoon parsley
– 1 oz gin or vodka

Place all ingredients into your blender, process for 30 seconds, and serve with your choice of accouterments.

xo, Nicole

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