Every year the debate begins around now as to where we will go on Christmas day, last year we went to Bruno’s house as the princess was only 6 weeks old and his house is closer so it was the obvious choice. Bru’s parents always go to Italy every second year for Christmas so that normally makes it easier so we had planned to go to mine this year but they have decided to stay as they want to be with the grandchildren so “what to do”?? The problem is the feast put on the table on Christmas day in Bruno’s, actually it starts Christmas Eve with a feast of fish and then the grand finale on Christmas day. I mentioned in my last post that they don’t have turkey and ham on Christmas day but we do in my house but like Bru I’m not a big lover of turkey and ham so I think we will probably do both houses, Bru’s for the “feast” and mine for the turkey sandwiches that evening. The “turkey sambos” are my job anyway in my house, there is just something so good about turkey sandwiches on Christmas night – lots of mayo, lettuce, turkey, stuffing, salt and pepper and a little bit of cranberry for those who like it and we always have a packet of C&O crisps for me and S&V for Bru on the side and a beer to wash it down of course –  gourmet cuisine it’s not but damn enjoyable;) I shall report back on the feast after the event:)

This Aldo Zilli recipe is a real winter warmer and great for the weather we are having at the moment. It is actually served in a restaurant called Latini in Florence, they don’t have a menu and they serve this soup as a starter before it’s famous Florentine steak, if I ever get to Florence again I will have to check it out. You do need a piece of ham or knucle bone, I used the end of the parma ham in La Cucina, maybe you could use a bit of the leftover ham at Christmas or ask your local butcher.

what you need:

 – 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 – 350g piece of ham or knuckle bone, thick skin trimmed.

 – 2 red onions sliced into fine rings.

 – 1-2 garlic cloves crushed

 – 6 plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped.

 – 1 red chilli finely chopped.

 – 1.2 litres water.

 – 675g fresh barlotti beans or 2  x 400g cans drained and rinsed. We have tinned barlotti and cannellini beans in stock in La Cucina.

 – 200g ditalini pasta or maccheroni. You can use any short pasta, I used Mezzi tubetti lisci which we have in La Cucina.
 – 4 basil leaves torn.

 – sea salt and black pepper.

 – freshly grated parmesan cheese.

what to do:

 – heat 2 tbsp of oil on a large pot and brown the ham or knuckle bone for 5 mins, turning regularly. Stir in the onions, garlic, chilli and tomato and saute for another 5 mins.

 – pour in the water and bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 45 mins. If you have any scum on the surface just skim it off.

 – remove the ham or bone and scrape the meat, trimming the fat off. Chop the meat and place it in a food processor with the soup and blend until smooth. I used a hand blender.

 – return the soup to the pot and bring back to the boil, add the beans and simmer for 10 mins. Add the pasta and basil and cook for 5-6 mins until the pasta is tender.

 – stir in the remaining olive oil and season to taste.

 – serve with parmesan cheese and some crusty ciabatta.


Buon Appetito!!
p.s. where are you going for Christmas and what’s on the menu???

p.p.s. are you a S&V or C&O crisp lover???:) I always find men are the S&V and the ladeees C&O but correct me if I’m wrong!!!