Ciambotta: The Quintessential Summer Soup

Ciambotta, or in the bastardized tongue of South-Eastern New England, “chom-both” – truly the quintessential summer abbondanz’.

This tomato-based vegetable stew can be served either freshly made and piping hot or chilled overnight and shoveled down the day after preparation (my fav way to take it). It is hands down, without a doubt, the most effective garden-clearing dish Fran ever made.

After the many hours dedicated to making the previous meal, I wanted to go for something that I could just pick, cut and pot – while also using up a few leftovers: the cut-out remnants from my cheesy polenta rounds and roasted tomato gravy.

Normally, featured players include zucchini and yellow squash, but as I stated in yesterday’s post, all of my zuccha plants were wiped out weeks ago. I still don’t want to talk about it.

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Recipe to ensue

CIAMBOTTA

Supplies:
-large stock pot
-cucchia(d) aka stirring spoon
-low-profile baking sheet (NOTpapa pan)

Ingredients:

Veggies
-1 large zucchini, de-seeded and chopped into 1/2″ pieces (purchased one at local farm for $1.00)
-1 medium yellow summer squash, chopped into 1/2″ pieces (stolen from my sister’s garden – she owes me)
-1 medium purple eggplant, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
-2 sweet green peppers, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
-4 small fennel stalks, chopped into 1/4″ slices
-kernels from 1 small ear of corn (first of the season!)
-8 medium-sized brussel sprout leaves, chiffonade
-1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ pieces (not from garden)

Seasonings
-5 cloves of garlic, rough-chopped
-1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped, plus parsley for garnish
-1 handful of fresh basil, chiffonade
-1 1/2 cups roasted tomato gravy
-2 cups of pipe punch or homemade veg stock
-6 twists of Himalayan pink or 2 tsp sea salt
-6 twists of fresh black pepper corns
-2 shakes crushed red pepper flakes
-3 shakes of garlic powder
-3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

-left over polenta, cut in 1/2″ cubes

Method:

Heat stock pot on medium high, add oil and heat (hot pan, cold oil).

Place chopped sweet potatoes in a dish, submerged in 1/2″ water and microwave for 2 minutes in high. Strain.

Add all veggies to pot (minus sweet potato) and stir. Season with half of salt and pepper. Sautée for 5 minutes.

Combine half of the tomato gravy, garlic and fresh herbs into the veg mix. Stir. Add half of the water and season with more salt and pepper.

Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add remaining tomato gravy, water, sweet potatoes, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic powder. Stir and check for seasoning. Do not over-season – the fresh veg flavor should shine through. Allow to cook for another 30 minutes to an hour.

Polenta Croutons

•Set broiler on high.

•Grease baking pan lightly with olive oil and load up polenta cubes.

•Brown and flip so all sides are toasted.

Serving

Ladle ciambotta into bowls, garnishing with polenta croutons and fresh parsley sprigs. Feel free to add some nooch and a couple of shakes of hot sauce.

Yields 4-5 servings (leftovers are even better).

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