I make no claims on the recipe for this wonderful, hearty soup inspired by the Italian ribollita. But I’ve been cooking it a lot in this chilly winter weather (well, chilly by Australian standards!…
Source: Soup to share
I make no claims on the recipe for this wonderful, hearty soup inspired by the Italian ribollita.
But I’ve been cooking it a lot in this chilly winter weather (well, chilly by Australian standards!) People keep asking me for the recipe so I thought I’d share it here.
It comes from a cookbook by Aussie chef Bill Granger, Bill’s Basics. I have an extensive cookbook collection but this is one of my favorites. Every recipe I’ve made from it has turned out splendidly and they are much in demand from my family. With my background as an editor in food magazines, I can be critical of recipes—I can only praise this collection!
Here it is—a tasty, warming soup.
BAKED BORLOTTI BEAN AND PANCETTA SOUP
- 375 g (2 cups) dried borlotti beans
- 2 red onions, diced
- 100g pancetta, chopped, or a ham hock
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 4 celery sticks, diced
- ½ teaspoons dried chilli flakes plus ½ tsp extra
- 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
- 1 litre (4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
- 200g ciabatta bread, crust removed, roughly torn
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 bunch cavolo nero, shredded
Put the borlotti beans in a large bow, cover with cold water and leave to soak for 8 hours or overnight. Rinse the beans under cold running water, then drain well.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Put the beans in a large ovenproof casserole dish with the onion, pancetta or ham hock, garlic, celery, chilli flakes, rosemary, stock and 1 litre (4 cups) water. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Put the lid on the dish and bake in the oven for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, adding a little more water if necessary.
When the soup is nearly ready, put the ciabatta on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the extra chilli flakes and some sea salt. Bake for 10–15 minutes until golden brown.
If you used the ham hock, lift it out now, shred the meat and return to the soup with the cavolo nero. Put the lid back on and leave for a couple of minutes until the cavolo nero is bright green.
Ladle into bowls and top with the toasted ciabatta croutons.
I’ve cooked this recipe several times. I’ve found with Bill Granger’s recipes from Bill’s Basics that if you follow the recipe exactly it turns out perfectly.
One time I didn’t have pancetta so used speck. Cavolo nero or tuscan cabbage isn’t always available where I shop – I’ve used kale instead and it tasted just as good.
I serve this soup with shaved parmesan cheese on top.
It’s so worth making the croutons, they taste fantastic and their crispness is a great contrast in texture. I’ve made them with sourdough bread when I haven’t had ciabatta.
I’ve successfully frozen this soup.
NOTE Australian standard measuring cups are used in this recipe. An Australian standard measuring cup is 250ml, an American one is 240ml so there isn’t much difference in a recipe like this.
One Australian metric tablespoon holds 20mls; a tablespoon in the US, the UK and New Zealand holds 15mls.
100 grams is approximately 4 oz
180˚C oven heat is approximately 360˚F
(For an excellent resource in converting baking measures and ingredients from other countries, visit Joy of Baking.)
KANDY SHEPHERD writes fun, feel-good fiction.
Her newest release from Harlequin Romance is The Bridesmaid’s Baby Bump.
The billionaire bachelor’s baby!
When party planner Eliza Dunne meets billionaire Jake Marlowe at a wedding, she decides to finally give in to the sparks that have always fizzed between them!
The connection is so intense that Jake can’t resist Eliza—but with the divorce only just final after his unhappy marriage, he’s not ready for anything serious. But when Eliza tells him her shocking news—she’s pregnant with his baby!—he has one certainty: he wants to be at the center of his new family, as a husband and father…
Visit Kandy at her website
TO TRAVEL TO NEW YORK CITY for a writer’s conference is awesome.
That it was a conference of more than two thousand romance writers and industry professionals made it a further shade of awesome.
That I attended the Romance Writers of America national convention in July 2015 as a multi-published author with Harlequin, the biggest publisher of romance in the world, shot the awesomeness right off the top of the scale.
The conference was held at the Marriott Marquise hotel—right on Times Square. RWA delegates prefer to stay in the same hotel as the conference is held.
I was fortunate enough to find a wonderful roommate, blogger Kim Lowe from the popular book blog, SOS Aloha. We barely knew each other but ended the conference firm friends. I also caught I up with writer friends from all over the world.
The convention comprises a myriad talks and workshops aimed at the beginner romance writer to best-selling authors wanting to keep on top of their professional game. The conference is also a good opportunity for authors to meet with their editors and literary agents—many of whom are in New York.
Unpublished writers get a chance to pitch their stories in one-to-one sessions with editors and agents—which can be nerve-wracking but ultimately rewarding. You see people practising their “pitches” all over the hotel.
One of the highlights of the conference is the massive book-signing that is open for free to the romance reading public. Publishers donate books for sale and the proceeds are donated to charities promoting literacy in the host state. This year the signing raised more than $US48,000 for literacy. A fabulous result—after all, it’s in our interest as authors to have a literate population!
Hundreds of authors, ranging from best-selling mega-stars to newbies with their first book, are assigned space on tables set up in rows in a vast room and sat in alphabetical order. Keen romance fans by the thousand start lining up early in the day for a chance to meet their favorite authors and buy a signed book. The noise level is extraordinary!
Other book-signings are held throughout the conference by the major publishers—the difference being that the books at these signings are free. The signings are open only for fee-paying delegates to the conference and are very well attended. We’re all readers before we’re writers. And free books. Needless to say a stash of new books made its way home with me.
A standout of the conference is the parties the big publishers host for their authors, usually on the Friday night. The granddaddy of the parties is the one put on by Harlequin. And what a party! Writers joke they want to get published by Harlequin just to get invited.
Friday night can be a tad dismal for unpublished authors at the conference unless you take matters into your own hands. At one RWA conference years ago a group of us who knew each other online and were meeting face-to-face held our own “pity party”. We enjoyed ourselves immensely—and in later years were able to catch up with each other at our various publishers’ parties. Because we all got published—in part because of what we’d learned from attending these conferences.
Much coveted were this year’s invitations to Harlequin’s Black and White Ball held at The Starlight Roof at the famous Waldorf Astoria hotel on Park Avenue.
Many of us writers spend most of our time wearing yoga pants and sitting at our computers. This was glamour indeed—one author told me going to the party was not only the highlight of the conference, but also one of the highlights of her life. Guests took the theme to heart by wearing gorgeous outfits in black and white.
They say a writer’s conference comprises a group of introverts desperately pretending to be extroverts. They did a very good job of it at the Harlequin party.
Formalities were kept to a minimum and then the dance floor was thrown open. Harlequin imports the same DJ from San Francisco every year and he knows exactly the music a bunch of writers and publishing staff of a range of ages wants. Everyone danced, danced, danced without inhibition. I got a blister on my toe, which needn’t have happened as Harlequin provides a pair of thick socks to each guest so they can slip off their shoes to dance.
Famous authors and high-ranking editors and publishers joined in dancing alongside first-timers. (Yes, Nora Roberts was dancing right next to me!) One author told me the dancing reminded her of long-ago sorority parties. Most of the authors are women and there was a wonderful spirit of camaraderie. In such glamorous surroundings, with an open bar and endless chocolate desserts on offer, it really was the perfect party.
I started off the conference feeling a bit grumpy, overly jet-lagged and wondering if I should have come. Was it worth it for a trip of just six days? My flight from Sydney, Australia was delayed by six hours and missed the connection in Los Angeles to New York. Instead of arriving at 5pm, I arrived at 1am the next morning. Then I lost my iPhone (thankfully someone handed it in.) To top it off, I realised I had packed two left shoes of two pairs of completely different black sandals!
Those early qualms soon dissolved in the sheer awesomeness of attending a conference of this size and professionalism. I even managed to see a little of New York on the Sunday after the conference ended (I’ve been there before and done the sights). And to my utter joy, discovered the shops were open until 9pm that Sunday because of the sales. The New York sales where everything was massively reduced. (Some new shoes with both a right and a left were purchased!)
Next year’s conference is in San Diego, California, a place I’ve long wanted to visit. Will I go? I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the kind of bargain airfare that got me to New York comes up later in the year.
Because back in my yoga pants, writing, writing, writing to finish a novel to meet a deadline, I’m fired with inspiration and the satisfaction that I’m doing absolutely what I want to do. The conference works to make me feel connected to the bigger publishing world beyond my desk and screen.
Kandy’s latest release from Harlequin Romance is Hired by the Brooding Billionaire released on August 1, 2015.
“Beauty and the reclusive billionaire…
When billionaire Declan Grant decides his estate’s enormous garden needs taming, he hires idealistic horticulturalist Shelley Fairhill to take on the challenge. Since losing his wife, Declan has adjusted to a life of self-imposed isolation—he wants Shelley to tackle the weeds, then leave.
But as Shelley gradually restores order and unexpected beauty to his garden, her caring nature also begins to thaw the ice encasing Declan’s heart. Can he let Shelley’s light in and finally let his second chance at love blossom?”
There are few places more romantic than the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali. No wonder it was where I chose to celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary last year. Just me and my husband in our own private villa at a gorgeous hotel in Seminyak, on the west coast. A week of utter bliss!
It was one of those vacations that I couldn’t fault. The weather was perfect, the resort* divine and the Balinese people as charming and hospitable as we remembered from our first visit to the tropical island fourteen years previously.
No wonder I chose Bali as the setting for my fourth book for Harlequin Romance, From Paradise to…Pregnant!— released in print and e-book on June 02 in North America, the UK and Australia and New Zealand. How could I resist such a perfect place for a romance?
My heroine Zoe and hero Mitch knew each other at high school—he the jock, she the nerd—but their friendship didn’t end well. When an earth tremor hits Bali, they meet again as they’re both staying at the same hotel. (Yes, I was inspired by the area where we stayed. No, we didn’t experience an earth tremor when we were in Bali!)
As they comfort each other after the shock of the earthquake, a private villa with its own pool became the perfect place for Zoe and Mitch to make amends for the past and become aware of their intense attraction to each other.
We loved the food in Bali, so of course I had to have the newly reunited couple share a meal. I wish I could recreate some of the delicious dishes we had there. I’ve looked up recipes online but they don’t taste the same. Next time I go to Bali, I’ll do a cooking course!
Of course, as is the way of romance novels, a lot happens between Zoe and Mitch’s reunion and the end of the book where they have a happy-ever-after ending. They leave Bali behind them as they travel home to different ends of the world — but the memories stay with them.
The memories have stayed with me too — I can’t wait to go back to Bali.
From Paradise to…Pregnant! has two covers, one for the North American market with the same image used for the Australian cover, and one for the UK. I think both reflect the feel of falling in love in a tropical paradise. The first one could be in that very pool in the villa in Bali and the second one on the beach.
From Paradise to…Pregnant! is available where Harlequin books are sold and at onlinebook retailers.
*We stayed at The Elysian in Seminyak and can highly recommend it.
ONE THING I REALLY LOVE ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR is creating settings for my books. The most fun are settings that spring from my imagination but are heavily influenced by real life places I have visited.
For my fictional small coastal town of Dolphin Bay, the setting of my February 2014release, The Summer They Never Forgot, I was influenced by the beautiful south coast of New South Wales, Australia, about four hours south of Sydney.
I have spent many happy vacations there and plundered memories of quaint towns, pristine beaches and unspoiled bushland to create Dolphin Bay. It was here I first saw the enchanting sight of dolphins frolicking in the surf. My Top Pick review at RT Book Reviews says the setting “is described so beautifully, readers will almost feel the sand between their toes”.
The people of my fictional Dolphin Bay celebrate the dolphins that come to frolic in their waters in images and representations of dolphins all over town, from dolphin decals to dolphin trash cans.
Here, I was influenced by the delightful small, beachside town of Penguin in the southern Australian island state of Tasmania. There are penguins everywhere in Penguin! I personally love dolphins so did for Dolphin Bay what the good folk of Penguin do for their town.
When eighteen months ago I stayed at the wonderful Blue Dolphin Inn in Cambria, California, and saw how cleverly they used dolphins in their décor, I knew I was on the right track.
Of course in The Summer They Never Forgot the dolphins aren’t what have stayed in my heroine Sandy Adam’s memories of Dolphin Bay—her thoughts center around handsome surfer Ben Morgan the first love she’d never been able to forget. When Sandy and Ben are reunited after twelve years will they get a second chance at a forever love?
The Summer They Never Forgot, was released inFebruary 2014 in the US, the UK and Australia.
Kandy Shepherd writes fun, feel-good fiction.
Visit Kandy at her website
Thanks to Tania Mayrhofer for the surf photos.
(This blog was first published in an edited form at Tote Bags ‘n’ Blogs in January 2014)