Second Runner Up - 2017 Recipe Contest

Belli amici! Cooks and chefs! Foodistas! HEY…ohhh…how ya DOIN’?! 

Chef Richie here to share the culinary…Mediterranean…flavor explosion! This month’s mouthwatering Honorable Mention recipe contains four of my favorite words: Hearty. Zesty. Tuscan. Soup. There’s a cold snap in the air outside and that naturally leads me to the kitchen, where it’s warm and cozy and where, with soup, the soul gets its satisfaction. Chef Richie says, he should’ve been called SOUPerman!!! It’s a SOUPERFOOD after all.

It’s so delicious, this soup might have won the entire competition. I have to say, to actually win, or take one of the other two places on the podium, you should (probably…it’s NOT a rule) come up with more of a main course dish that requires more work than soup usually does, and that NEEDS the addition of the sun dried tomatoes. This soup has so much going for it that the sun dried tomatoes seem more like an afterthought, or an edible garnish.

One stroke of genius, whether an actual invention or not, is it's ‘Italian Mirepoix’. Mirepoix is originally a staple of classic French cuisine (pronounce with me: Meer-eh-pwah) and is the universal soup and stew veggie base: Onion, carrot, celery, sometimes garlic and often a bouqet garni (a bundle of herbs, classically herbs de provence, tied with a string or in cheese cloth to add aromatic personality). In this soup, Chef Mary uses fennel, which gives the soup a very different, complex and refreshing flavor profile.


1 Tablespoons Bella Sun Luci Olive oil
3/4 lb. Italian sausage 
1 large russet potato, peeled and medium diced (about 2 cups)
1 medium red onion small diced.
1 fennel (anise) bulb, trimmed and medium diced (about 2 cups) Save fronds for garnish
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 Tablespoons dry sherry
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup fine chopped Italian parsley 
1 cup medium chopped kale
1/2 cup medium chopped Bella Sun Luci Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil with Italian Herbs
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
Juice and zest of one large lemon
Salt and black pepper to taste 

Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, add sausage and brown breaking into small pieces with back of spoon. about 3 minutes. Stir in potato, onion, and fennel and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until onion begins to soften. Stir in red crushed peppers.
Add sherry and stir to loosen any meat stuck on pan bottom about, 30 seconds.
Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to simmer and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 10-15 minutes.
Add kale, parsley, Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes, heavy cream, lemon juice and zest, stir gently to incorporated, about 3 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot with fennel fronds as a garnish.

Two other little things to honorably mention about this soup:
*You don’t actually need the cream. Try cooking and tasting it both ways, with and without cream. Sometimes cream smooths and marries flavors and sometimes it hides them. I think, personally, that the fennel is sharper and brighter without the cream.
*If you do enter a recipe into our contest, remember that we have more than sun dried tomatoes. This recipe calls for olive oil, but it might make us feel a little better if Chef Mary had said, “Bella Sun Luci Estate Grown Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil”. I’m exaggerating, but remember, we grow, produce and sell olive oil and other products in the Bella Sun Luci line include 3 different risotto mixes, a fabulous artichoke-tomato pasta sauce and a few other tricks we have up our sleeve. Take a little look at this web site and you’ll see what I mean.

Congratulations Chef Mary! You’ll soon receive a gift box full of many of the products mentioned here, to prepare a new awesome dish to submit for this year’s (deadline July 1, 2018) contest.

Now…EVERYBODY… get cookin’, buon appetito and tanto tanto amore! And arrivederci...until we meet again…

Chef Richie

About Chef Richie

As corporate chef for Bella Sun Luci, Richard "Chef Richie" Hirshen, whose culinary career spans more than 30 years, plays an instrumental role in product development, recipe creation, and cooking demonstrations.

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