ON COOKING: Dumpling-sized pastas make for hardy soup

Any easy and tasty recipe for those at home looking for something different to cook

By Chef Dez/Special to Black Press Media

One of the best things about Italian cuisine can be its simplicity, and one of the best things about staying at home is making soup.

One of the commonly asked questions directed to me is for easy, fast, and delicious soup recipes. This is the one I recommend all the time.

This soup is hearty and because it is loaded with Italian sausage, gnocchi pasta, tomatoes, garlic, and incredible cheese it is everything you would expect from an Italian soup… but also very quick and easy to prepare.

If you have never heard of “gnocchi” pasta before, don’t despair – vacuum sealed packages of the small dumpling-like pasta shapes can be found at almost all major grocery stores down the pasta aisle.

Don’t underestimate the choice of the Pecorino Romano cheese as the finishing garnish for this soup as it adds incredible flavour and compliments and balances all the other flavours in this soup beautifully.

Large shavings of this cheese are easily prepared with a simple vegetable peeler – shave it directly onto the individually bowled soup portions just prior to serving – this looks much more rustic and gourmet than simply grating it, but either way is fine.

If you can’t find Pecorino Romano, a chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano will suffice.

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ANOTHER RECIPE: Cauliflower options help keep true to New Year’s resolution

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Italian Sausage & Gnocchi Soup

500g raw mild Italian sausage, casings removed and discarded

1 tbsp olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1.5 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 – 796ml can of diced tomatoes

1800ml chicken broth

1 tsp sugar

1 – 500g package of potato gnocchi pasta

1 packed cup fresh baby spinach leaves

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Generous amounts of shaved Pecorino Romano cheese

Add the sausage meat, olive oil, garlic, onion, salt and pepper to a large pot. Turn the heat to medium and cook for approximately 5 to 7 minutes until the sausage in cooked through, while breaking up the sausage meat with a spoon as it cooks.

Add the can of tomatoes, chicken broth, and sugar. Increase the heat to medium high to bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the gnocchi and continue to cook for 3 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the spinach and basil and portion out immediately; garnished with generous amounts of shaved Pecorino Romano cheese.

Makes approximately 13 cups

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– Chef Dez is a food columnist and culinary instructor in the Fraser Valley. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Send questions to dez@chefdez.com or to P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 6R4

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