Monday soup for the soul

After last week’s impromptu “let’s just all have a week off as everyone got ill”, everyone’s back and out of the house and so I spent the whole of my Monday morning – err, cleaning the kitchen. Yes, really, life is that glamorous, although it’s actually quite a nice feeling in a way, kind of puts the world to rights and all that. And sometimes the world really does need putting to rights, especially as it’s the week leading up to the elections on Sunday with its climate of hate.

It’s a feeling that’s getting to a lot of us. Even my son was feeling something this weekend. On Saturday evening, he announced: “Mum, tomorrow I’m going to tidy the house. “I need to create ordine,” he announced, ordine being order. Maybe it was really just to do with a messy house, maybe not, but thankfully that didn’t happen and we were all able to just slouch on the sofa instead.

The picture is of soup, or what I tend to call dry soup, my own version of the thicker soups that some call minestrone or minestra, and if you’re in Tuscany you may also call it ribollita. The idea is that the Tuscan ribollita is “re-boiled” and bread added which results in a thick, chunky soup. The version I made this lunchtime is literally a re-boiled, re-heated soup from Saturday. I started with the basic soffritto – the fried base that’s often the basis of many soups and pastas, in this case, half an onion, one carrot and a clove of garlic for good measure as I’m trying to limit our consumption of salt, although you do need some salt to give flavour. Add a common or garden cabbage, a couple of chopped potatoes and half a cup of pearl barley.

When I made mine on Saturday I added the pearl barley later as an afterthought. This  really depends how cooked you want your vegetables. If you want them less cooked, then add the barley at the same time as the vegetables. The soup should remain relatively thick, so hold back on the water. The cabbage can just steam on the top, and will eventually become absorbed. Serve when all is cooked through, and do check the barley as it may take longer than the recommended cooking time. By the time I reboiled it today, it had all become gloriously thick, perfect for serving on two slices of pane di segale or rye bread, with crumbled (ish) goat’s cheese as I couldn’t find the cheese grater, and the obligatory drizzling of olive oil without which it just wouldn’t feel complete.

So I was officially supposed to be back at work today but it didn’t quite happen that way and now the sun’s come out and has lit up all the snow. Roma è sotto la neve or Rome is under snow, along with most of Italy, and the lunchtime news is filled of travel inconveniences and other stories.  Burian, the icy Siberian wind has arrived and in the north we’ve had our own sprinkling. And very pretty it is too.

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