WOW, how cold was it today?? It’s always a shock to the system when the temperature drops so fast even though 12 degrees is hot compared to Russia and the likes but it’s cold for us Irish where the temp stays in the same range for the majority of the time!! I love this weather, bright blue skies and crisp fresh air!! You may sense I’m in a better mood after all my moaning for the past couple of posts, it’s finished I promise!! That’s the thing with a blog, well mine anyway as I tend to write as I think so I’m afraid my mood will be reflected in my writing or whining as some of you may say;) Everything is great on the staff front, it has worked itself out and the new Italian chef is fantastic!! He just does his own thing – today he made Parmigiana to take home and bake in the oven, Salame al Cioccolato(Italian chocolate biscuit cake which everybody said looked like black pudding(AGHHHH) and he made a delicious Sausage and Cannellini Bean soup, we asked him to make mushroom soup and he told us it was too boring HALLELUJIA!!!!:) This guy works for the owner of DIESEL (our favourite brand of clothing in the world), he works on his boat – we are not worthy!! We have an Italian girl starting tomorrow on the counter so all is good!!!

On the subject of Italians I was reading in the paper the other day that the Italian government have introduced a new tax incentive to encourage Italian boys/men to leave their “Mamma”. It is estimated that 8 out of 10 Italians aged under 30 still live at home and the average age for moving out is 36!! I’d believe it as most of Bruno’s cousins and friends live at home. Italian men make up the bulk of those staying at home – 67% and they have even come up with a name for them “Mammoni” or “big mummy’s boys”. They plan to offer the under 30’s earning less than €15,000 –  €1000 in tax relief in next year’s budget. Some economists are saying that Italy’s bad economy is causing this problem as the average wage in Italy is half or less than what we earn here but somehow I think a lot of them just like their home comforts, Italian mammies are very good to their sons – BELIEVE ME I KNOW!!!;)

So to keep my “Italian Amore” happy I decided to cook a nice traditional, hearty soup perfect for this weather for lunch today!! This recipe is really simple, there is a little preparation involved as there are a few vegetables to be chopped but once that is done it’s really fast and absolutely delicious! We have a new range of De Cecco pasta for soups in La Cucina, we have Riso and Alfabeto which are great for babies and toddlers too as they are tiny. I used the riso in this soup and it really adds substance and makes it really filling. this recipe is from Aldo Zilli’s book, I’m slowly getting through it!!

I have not forgotten about the online shop either but besides our staffing problem we are moving house, looking at premises in the city centre and my sister is getting married in March so it has been put on hold for the minute but if anyone needs anything just send me an email and I will pop it in the post!

WHAT YOU NEED FOR 2/4 PEOPLE – DOUBLE THE QUANTITIES FOR 6:

 – 4 tbsp olive oil
 – 25g pancetta – available in Superquin, Dunnes, Aldi and Lidl
 – 1 small onion
 – 1 garlic clove crushed or finely chopped
 – 1 carrot diced
 – 1 courgette diced
 – 1 celery stalk diced
 – 50g broccoli – trimmed and stalks diced
 – 2 plum tomatoes skinned, seeded and diced
 – 1 litre of veg stock – I used Italian stock cubes available in LC
 – 250g broad beans – I couldn’t find any so you can do it without.
 – 75g Riso or long grain rice
 – pecorino cheese
 – salt and pepper

WHAT TO DO:

 – bring a small pot of water to the boil and cook your full tomatoes for a couple of mins until skin starts to peel off. Drain and let cool and peel off skin and de-seed and chop.

 – heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot, add the pancetta and onion and cook over a gentle heat until onions are soft. This takes about 10 mins.

 – add the garlic, carrots, celery, courgettes, broccoli stalks but not florets(heads), season and cook for about 10 mins until the veg has softened but not coloured.

 – Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Stir in the broad beans and rice and season and simmer for 10 mins or until rice is tender.

– add the broccoli florets and simmer for a further 5-10 mins until all the veg is cooked but not too soft, they should still have a little bite to them. Stir in the remaining olive oil and pecorino cheese and stir!!

 – serve with some crusty bread and enjoy!! It warms the bones, this one!!:)

BUON APPETITO!!

p.s. to make it vegetarian just leave out the pancetta.

p.p.s. – the Parmigiana is available to buy in La Cucina at the moment so Limerick readers hmm hmm:) I will be posting the recipe soon!!

It’s Organic Week in Ireland this week, check out Amanda’s site for her recipe of the month event!! I actually used all organic veg in this recipe so I unintentionally took part:)

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