The first time I tasted a Cream of Celery soup was 30 years ago at the house of a family from Udine. They prepared this dish and I was impressed by its delicate flavor. I didn’t dared to ask for the recipe because at that time it was considered rude to ask for the recipes of the dishes tasted during a visit. Later, on a trip to the U.S., I enjoyed celery in a Waldorf Astoria salad made with apples and walnuts.
Over 90 years have spread vegetables and fruit shakes and here and there and celery gave a tasty and original touch to the various mixtures.
In my family, celery always had the role of simple flavor in the broth and sauces. Only in winter, when there were no fresh vegetables a did we eat boiled celery root salad. When I started to know celery’s properties (see the Buying Guide section) did it become an important element in my winter kitchen.
This recipe was created by my sister Flavia last Christmas and the whole family loved it. For the traditional components of passatelli, a classic regional cuisine of Emilia-Romagna, she added two typical ingredients of winter, pumpkin and horseradish. These ingredients lighten the dish. For optimum results you must use a good stock, possibly turkey, but it will be just as tasty with a vegetable broth.
Those who have a garden know that we often forget a few zucchini that grow up under the large leaves of the plant. In this case, we can gather these overgrown zucchini that are not really suitable to be consumed in the traditional ways. This principle also applies when you find abnormally large zucchini in the grocery store. I created this recipe in which you can also use the overgrown zucchini. It is suitable for hot climates like Italy and it’s also very fast and fresh.
This soup could be ideal for Easter Day’s dinner, a lightweight way to end the day after Easter lunch. The flavors are refined and this can be served even if there are guests. If you find mint, you can add a couple of leaves together with the parsley.
This recipe is a classic from the countryside of Friuli. At one time pumpkins were planted between rows of corn. Their cultivation began right after their discovery in America and were easily integrated in the fields especially since they matured at the same time as the rest of the crops. Pumpkins were round small and dark green placed at the end of each row of corn. When they matured the inside was a yellow orange color with a floury and sweet flavor. Because corn and pumpkins were grown together it was natural for a recipe like “Zuff” to be born.
This soup has the consistency of a polenta and is eaten during breakfast. It was a hearty meal for the farmers before going out to work in the fields and something hot and sweet for the beginning of the first cold days. My father loved the Zuff that my grandma prepared almost every morning from the beginning of November until all the pumpkins were consumed. He ate it when it was scalding hot with freshly squeezed milk from our cows.
Every breakfast he tasted the first bite slowly to appreciate the fragrance of the pumpkin like sommelier do with a fine wine. He noted that the sweetness of the pumpkin and the back taste could vary from a chestnut flavor, (which he preferred), to an almond flavor. If it had a cucumber back taste that meant the pumpkin was not good. He could read in the simplicity of that dish if he had done a good job wit the crops. If he had used the right fertilizer or if he had watered the pumpkins at the right time, always taking notes for next years cultivation.
I didn’t like Zuff that much, I always found it too filling. However, last week I wanted to make it for my son and Colleen, to bring back a recipe almost forgotten in time. The experience was gratifying. This is a simple dish that is filling and appropriate in these times of economical crisis. Because this dish is soft and smooth, it is also appropriate for children and the elderly. If you have some leftovers Zuff can be eaten cold the day after accompanied by hot milk.
The scent of a “piarsolade” entices me even though I usually do not drink wine. This cold peach soup can be made with a white wine or red one. If you use a red wine this soup has the final taste of something like sangria. This is a preparation which shows us that with a few ancient seasonal ingredients you can make something tasty and provide “a moment of happiness.” This soup can easily replace dessert on a hot summer day.