I am sitting on the balcony, my feet firmly stamped on the terracotta tiles, warmed by the afternoon sun. Our balcony faces west, I always say this to everyone when they visit or when they sit at the table after a cooking class. From my balcony I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sunsets of my life, I’ve admired the shooting stars during San Lorenzo night with my nose up in the sky, feeling at the centre of the world, I’ve eaten there and I’ve read books, I’ve hung the clothes out to dry and I’ve watered my fresh herbs, flooding my grandma’s front door.
From the balcony I check what Noa is doing in the garden. You can often see her lying in her favorite spot, where she can simultaneously control her three houses: ours, my parents’ house and my grandma’s one, so she can choose each time where to go to beg her daily dose of cuddles.
Today, sitting on my tiny balcony, I felt the Spring. I’ve just come back from three days in Bologna where I worked continuously until evening. At night I would go out and I would still find some light, a soft Spring light, girls walking with light clothes and loose hair on her shoulders. Back here, I found a stunning green to welcome me, so intense that it could almost seem unreal.
A few days ago I took a picture of a potato and artichoke soup just in front of my balcony door. I made the soup for one of our lunches on the sofa. I am still quite elastic and extemporary in the management of our daily menu at home.
Often we reach lunch time already hungry and tired, sometimes we postpone our lunch until we’ve closed a project, so what we need is a main dish which is fast and appealing for our appetite. We want it simple, so we can eat it with a spoon, sitting comfortably on the sofa and watching one of our favorite TV series (currently Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds – which is not completely suiting lunch time – and House of Cards).
I’m eating my weight in artichokes right now, they’ve quickly become my connection between winter and the good season. Artichokes are cooked with potatoes and leeks and half a cup of chicken broth, something I made some time ago and stored in the freezer. The soup can be served with more sautéed artichokes and golden bread croutons cooked with savory, or even with some toasted hazelnuts and almonds, if you want to keep the soup gluten free.
Try this velvety soup, find a west-facing window or balcony and enjoy its delicate flavour with the Spring sunshine kissing your forehead.
Potato and artichoke soup
- 200 g of leeks
- 250 g of potatoes
- 2 artichokes
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup of chicken broth
- 1 ½ cup of warm water
- Black pepper
- 1 artichoke
- 2 slices of bread
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Savory sprigs
- Slice the leeks thinly up to the green part. Peel the potatoes and dice them. Clean the artichokes and cut them into strips.
- Put a few tablespoons of olive oil on the bottom of a medium saucepan, add the vegetables and stir to combine the flavour on medium heat until all the vegetables are browned.
- Cover the vegetables with chicken broth and water and cook on low heat for about 25 minutes, until all the vegetables are cooked through.
- Blend the vegetables and pour the soup back into the saucepan and cook on low flame until it gets your favourite thickness. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Clean the last moretto artichoke and cut it into strips, warm a tablespoon of olive oil and cook the artichoke with a few sprigs of savory until golden. When the artichokes are ready, remove them from the pan and add the cubed bread: fry until golden.
- Serve the soup with the fried artichoke and bread croutons.
- Savory, santoreggia in Italian, is an herb rich in tradition and legend, has such a fine taste that a whole class of cookery is attached to it. Summer savory has a peppery taste much like thyme, while winter savory has a more piney taste. Savory blends well with other herbs such as basil, bay leaf, marjoram, thyme and rosemary. It is said that the taste of savory brings all these herbs together for a unique flavor.
- Another version of my soup, try Sarah’s potato, leek and artichoke soup. Some people head off to a spa to relax. Others sign up for yoga classes or spend a day poolside in a chaise lounge sipping drinks with paper umbrellas. Me? I make soup. I love her approach!
- Like finding small hole-in-the-walls that serve clam chowder in New England, here one can sometimes find local diners that sell delicious artichoke soup. Try Simple Recipe’s for a velvety artichoke soup made with butter and cream.