Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Friuli Basil Soup with Vegetables, Beans, and Barley

This is my first winter here in Southern California.  It has been colder than what I would have thought it would be, but winter time is truly here!  

So... here is a real good soup that will warm you right up when it's cold outside.  Stephanie and I would like to share this recipe with you that was taken out of her new cookbook.   On her birthday this summer, I bought her a cookbook stand and cookbook because she loves to cook and try new things.  She had this book once and unfortunately lost it during one of her moves, and she spoke about replacing several times, because she liked it so much.  So what a better gift to give her, of course we would get to enjoy some new dishes that we have never had before, that would truly be yummy!

The cookbook was called MARCELLA CUCINA ~ Marcella cooks by your side with an inspirational collection of new recipes that brings to your table the flavors, the textures, the essence of Italy by Marcella Hazan.  

After tasting this wonderful recipe you might just run out a by the cookbook to try some of her other recipes!

Zuppa Friulana Con Lorzo E Il Basilico
For 6 persons

 1/2 cup Barley
3 medium Zucchini
1 1/2 pounds  Swiss Chard
2 medium Potatoes
1 medium Onion, peeled
1 medium Carrot, peeled and cut into medium size pieces
1 cup whole Celery leaves
1 whole peeled Garlic Clove
Black Pepper, ground fresh
1 cup dried cranberry or white Cannellini Beans, soaked overnight as described on page 401 or about 1 pound unshelled fresh cranberry beans
1/4 pound Green Beans
1/2 cup shelled fresh Peas or frozen peas
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Oil
1/2 cup Fresh Basil leaves, chopped very fine just before serving
2 Tablespoons Butter

Marcella writes...
For a long I used to think that nothing could compare with a Tuscan soup, but after accompanying my husband on visits to the wineries of Friuli, the northeastern most Italian region, I found that there that Tuscany had met it's match. 

The recipe for this soup came from Parrizia Felluga of the winery at Russiz Superiore.  Think of it as a broad anthology of flavors and texture.  There are vegetables of both green and the root kind,  two kinds of beans, and the favorite Friuli grain - barley - all pulled together by the arousing fragrance of the fresh basil.  You will have a number of pots going because there are so many different thing to cook, yet all of them are very easy to do, demanding nothing beyond a certain investment of time.   You can make it whenever time is not a problem; and freeze it, all but the basil; and have it whenever you want to put something of substantially satisfying on the table.

1.) Put the barley in a sauce pan with about 1 1/2 cups of water, bring to a slow boil, and cook at a gentle simmer for 45 minutes, until the barley is tender but not mushy.  Drain when done, reserving its cooking liquid for possible later use.

2.) Soak and clean the zucchini as described on page 162, trim off the ends and cut them into 1-inch pieces.

3.) If using mature chard with fleshy stalks, detach the stalks and cut them into 1-inch pieces.  If it is young chard, detach and discard the spindly, spinach-like stems.  Look all the leaves over for any that are blemished or whithered and discard them.  Soak the leaves and, if you have them,  the cut-up stems in a basin with several changes of cold water to remove all traces of soil.

4.) Wash the potatoes,  peel them, and cut them along with the onion and the carrot  into
1-inch pieces.

5.) Put the drained chard; the pieces of zucchini, potatoes, onion, and carrot; the celery leaves; and the garlic into the soup pot.  Add salt and 2 1/2 cups water.  Turn the heat on to medium, cover the pot, bring its contents to a slow boil, and cook at a gentle simmer for at least 45 minutes until all the ingredients are very, very soft and there flavors merge.  Add several grindings of black pepper when  the vegetables have cook for about 15 minutes.   

6.) If you are using dried beans that have been soaking over night, drain and rinse them.  If using fresh beans, shell them and wash them in cold water.  Put the beans in a pot with enough water to cover by 2 or 3 inches, and cook them over very low heat until tender - 45 minutes or so.  Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

7.)  While all the pots are going, wash the green beans, snap off the ends,  and drop them into the pot of boiling salted water.  Cook them until tender, about 10 minutes or so, then drain them. 

8.) If you are using shelled fresh peas, cook them as you did the green beans, even using the same pot if you like, in boiling salt water.  If you are using frozen peas, no preliminary cooking is required.

9.) When the vegetables in the soup pot are completely tender, puree them in a food processor, then return them to the pot.   Add the drained barley, the cooked dried beans, the green beans, the peas, and the olive oil.  Cook at a gentle simmer, stirring from time to time, for 10 or 15 minutes.  If the soup becomes to dense, thin it with some of the beans' reserved cooking liquid and, should it prove necessary, some of the barley's liquid.   Just before serving, chop the basil very fine, swirl the butter into the pot, then add the basil and stir thoroughly.

AHEAD-OF-TIME NOTE:  The soup may be completed a few hours in advance, but add the basil and butter only after reheating, when ready to serve.  If using the same day, do not refrigerate.  If you want to keep it longer, it is better to freeze it.  When frozen, the soup thickens and it my be desirable to add a little water when reheating. 


  1. Wow, this soup looks delicious. Perfect for the season.

  2. It was good... It warmed the heart for sure! I think maybe adding some andouille sausage would be most excellent!