Saturday, January 18, 2014

Peas and Macaroni Soup

This is yet another dish I learned from my Mother-in-law.  She is Italian and from Brooklyn.  You know the Italian Brooklyn ladies you see in the movies?  That's her.  Yes, she's just as cool as she sounds, a no nonsense, tell it like it is, love you with all her heart and stuff you with food till you bust kind of lady.  Plus, she's more of a friend than a typical pushy Mother-in-law.  I'm lucky to have her in my life.  Right now, she's battling cancer.  But she's a tough braud, the toughest I know.  She'll tell it where it can go and what it can do when it gets there.

She's taught me a lot about cooking over the years and here's a dish she loves.  You will, too.  It's a great comfort food.


3 TBS oil
1/4 of an onion, sliced very thin
1 can sweet peas, do not drain
1 small can tomato sauce with basil & oregano
3 TBS chopped fresh parsley
8 oz small pasta (small shells, ditalini, elbow)

Boil water for the pasta.  Season the pasta water with a lot of salt.  You will use this later.

Add oil and onions to a medium-sized pot.  Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently.  You want the onions to caramelize.

Once the onions are caramelized, add the can of peas with the liquid.  This liquid helps thicken the soup.  Add tomato sauce.  Salt and pepper to taste.

When the pasta is almost done (it will finish cooking in the soup), reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water before draining.  Or you can just use a slotted spoon to scoop all the pasta out, keeping the water in the pot.

Add the pasta to the peas and stir well.  Add a little of the reserved pasta water to make the peas as soupy as you like.  Salt and pepper to taste again.  Stir in fresh parsley.  Serve it up in bowls.  You can even add a little more of the pasta water to each bowl, depending on how soupy each person wants it.  I like it thicker, my husband likes it soupier.

I like to serve some easy garlic toast with this.  Here's a trick for infusing garlic flavor into butter.  Crack a peeled garlic clove and place it in a microwave safe mug.  Add 1 TBS oil and 1 TBS butter.  Cover with a paper towel and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Let it sit for a few minutes, then brush onto slices of bread.  Toast them up in the oven.  This just gives a hint of garlic, good flavor without being overpowering.

Try this comforting meal and see how good simple can be.

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