Roasting the vegetables is the real key to success in this soup, they dehydrate and concentrate in flavour in the oven, and it also helps them to keep their shape in the liquid. The parmesan rind is an old trick, and one really worth a go if you haven’t tried it before. It adds a savoury depth to the soup and really fills out the flavour. Save up your parmesan rinds for this, or ask at your local deli. I’ve also popped some crunchy kale chips on the soup, you can find the recipe here.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan-forced or 200˚C conventional.
Cook the soaked beans in simmering water for 20 minutes, or until just tender. Keep the beans a little on the firmer side, as they’ll be cooked further in the soup.
Meanwhile, toss the carrot, parsnip, sweet potato and fennel seeds in oil, season and tip onto a lined baking tray. Roast for 30 minutes.
Add a splash of oil to a large, heavy-based pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, fennel and pancetta and sweat, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes. Add the bay leaf, thyme and tomato paste to the pot and cook for 2 minutes while stirring. Add the roasted vegetables, cooked beans, Parmesan rind, stock and 1 litre of water and bring to a simmer. Add the green beans and chard and cook for 15 minutes. Add the pasta for the last 8 minutes of cooking. Keep an eye on the liquid level, it should be a thick soup but you may have to add a little more water.
Once cooked, adjust the seasoning (remove the parmesan rind if you like, but it will keep imparting flavour if you’re not serving all the soup at once) and serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, grated parmesan and, as an option, some crunchy kale chips.
I’m very fussy about the chicken I buy and try to never waste a scrap of it. A roast bird with a little meat on it should be the start of something special, not relegated to unwanted leftovers in the back of the fridge.
To make the stock, pick all the meat from the carcass and leg. Chop the meat into a small dice and set aside. Place the bones, skin and any jelly and fat into a large pot with the peppercorns, garlic, onion, bay leaf and crumbled stock cube and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Strain off the liquid and discard the bones and aromatics, you should have about 1.5-2 litres of liquid.
Simmer the barley for 10 minutes and drain.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil, onion and garlic and cook for about 4 minutes until softened. Add the celery, leek and carrot and cook over a low to medium heat for about 20 minutes until caramelised. Add the spices, bay leaves, cabbage and silverbeet, season and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes. Add the beans, zucchini, barley and the stock, bring to the simmer and cook for 20 minutes (adding more water if needed). Stir through the reserved chicken, simmer briefly, adjust the seasoning if necessary and serve.
I use Dutch cream potatoes because they are sweet, dense and deluxe when slow cooked but you can substitute with desiree, kipfler or any other yellow-fleshed potato.
Preheat oven to 170°C.
Bring a pot of water to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook the fennel for 20 minutes until tender. Drain, cool and thinly slice lengthways.
In a small pan, gently cook the thyme and garlic in olive oil over very low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until golden.
Add the thyme and garlic to a larger pot with the butter, cream and stock. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and the clove.
In a round ceramic or copper baking dish add a splash of the cream mix and lay slices of the potato over it in circular fashion. Sprinkle over a little of both cheeses then lay over some fennel. Repeat with cream, potato, cheese and fennel layers, making sure you stir the cream mix each time before pouring it over. Keep going until you have no potatoes left then finish with cream mix and cheese.
Cover with non-stick paper and foil and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes then remove the paper and foil. Bake uncovered for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden.
In place of the Caesar’s bacon, there is crispy pancetta, and instead of cos lettuce, there’s fennel and celeriac, both cool-weather favourites of mine. Bagna cauda (‘hot bath’) is often served in Italy as a dipping sauce for crudites. Here it’s a rich and delicious dressing.
To make the bagna cauda, warm all ingredients except the water in a small pot. Check the seasoning, add the water, and stir through.
To make the salad, bring a small pot of water to the boil and add the eggs. Boil for 6 minutes to make soft-boiled eggs. Remove and let cool in cold water. Peel.
Toss bread chunks with olive oil and toast in 180°C oven for 10 minutes.
Fry the pancetta pieces until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
Lay the celeriac, fennel and parsley in a shallow serving bowl or platter. Scatter with the bread pieces and top with the pancetta. Roughly break the eggs and scatter over. Shave over most of the parmesan, then dress with the bagna cauda and drizzle with the sherry vinegar. Scatter with a little more parmesan just before serving.
To make the dressing, bring a small pot of water to the boil and place eggs into boiling water. Allow to boil for 8 minutes to make hard-boiled (but not rock-hard) eggs. Plunge into cold water, sit for 5 minutes, then peel and roughly chop.
Gently mix eggs with mayonnaise and vinegar. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
Boil potatoes in plenty of salted water for 15 minutes. Drain then press to a rough crumb with a fork.
Toast the bread, rub with the whole garlic clove, then blitz to a chunky crumb with half the parsley. Heat a frypan and toss the crumb with a tablespoon of oil and some salt to toast a little further. Tip out and reserve, wipe the pan and return to high heat.
Dry calamari really well then toss with a tablespoon of oil and add to the hot pan. Cook for 1 minute before adding the sliced garlic and dried chilli. Fry for 2 minutes then add the warm potato, the radicchio, the rest of the parsley and the fennel. Pour over the remaining olive oil and the lemon juice, add the breadcrumb mixture and gently mix together.
I make it over and over again, sometimes using blood oranges if they’re around. The sweetness of the oranges and currants and the spiky flavour of dried chilli works perfectly with the salty fetta and the anise notes in the fennel.
In a small pot, add the vinegar, currants and chilli flakes and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes over high heat. Take off the heat and add the diced onion. Stir and allow to steep for at least 5 minutes.
Lay the fennel and orange slices on a plate and season with salt and pepper. When you’re ready to serve add the oil to the currant mix and stir. Spoon the currant dressing over the orange and fennel then sprinkle with the crumbled fetta and the mint.