Today's focus of Famous Fridays is someone with whom you are all probably familiar--Giada De Laurentiis, the wildly popular and pretty Emmy Award winning Food Network star, guest host on the Today show, and author of 7 cookbooks to date. If you've ever watched her show, "Giada at Home" or taken a look at one of her cookbooks, you will see that she is strongly connected to her heritage--born in Rome but raised in the States, her cooking style is thoroughly infused with Italian influences merged with more modern American techniques and ingredients. I've watched her for years and admire her simple, clean style, with its focus on fresh, local and healthy ingredients, like this easy-to-make and wonderful Rustic Vegetable Soup.
What's great about most of Giada's recipes is that they are generally straightforward, "unfussy" and really fit well into everyday life. Sure, there are some of her dishes you'd be better off tackling on a leisurely Sunday (if those ever exist) but a lot of her creations can be made in half an hour to 45 minutes, which make them perfect for weeknight meals. This soup is a great example of that and perfect for the frigid weather we've been having!!
You start by chopping up an onion, carrots, a few cloves of garlic, zucchini, tomatoes and some fresh parsley.
Then you toss them all into a pot and cook them with some chicken broth. What sets this soup apart from other vegetable soups is the addition of a little instant polenta, thickening the soup just a little so it's a bit heartier and has a better texture.
The whole thing takes about 25-30 minutes tops. It's great for a quick lunch or serve it for dinner with a loaf of crusty bread and a salad. However you serve it you'll be left with a flavorful soup that's chock full of veggies and warms you down to your toes! Mmn, mmn good!!
Have a great weekend and check out Giada's show or pick up one of her cookbooks and get cookin'! Ciao!
Giada's Rustic Vegetable Soup
Make about 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes; Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 slices
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 zucchini, chopped into 1/2 pieces
3 plum tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 pieces
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped finely
4 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth if you want to keep this vegetarian)
1/3 cup instant polenta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, salt and pepper and cook for about 6-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are beginning to get brown. Add zucchini, tomatoes, and parsley and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring now and then.
2. Pour in the broth and bring the whole thing to a boil. In a steady stream, slowly whisk in the polenta. Then let the soup boil for another 8-9 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Remove the pot from the heat.
3. Add the butter and stir to melt it. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary,
4. Soup reheats well and keeps well in the refrigerator for several days.
Note: Recipe slightly adapted from Weeknights with Giada by Giada De Laurentiis. I left out the fresh thyme and use extra carrots.