Chef Gianfranco DiCarlo’s old-fashioned soups for Whole Foods go beyond basic broth.
“SOUP IS HUGE,” says Gianfranco DiCarlo, one of Whole Foods celebrated regional chefs. The popular natural and organic food store boasts more than 50 soups in its repertoire. “In the summer we feature cold soups, like Strawberry Peach and lots of gazpachos. In the fall, we focus on heartier soups like Wild Mushroom Pecan and Triple Squash with Apple.” The number-one soup? “I’d have to say our Chicken Noodle. It’s done the old-fashioned way, entirely from scratch, and it just makes you feel good,” he says.
DiCarlo adds a couple of his family’s Italian-American recipes to the soup menu at Whole Foods, evidence of this chef’s admittedly emotional connection to simple hearty soups. Pasta e Fagioli and Italian Beef Soup both hail from the old country and make for hearty cool-weather meals. “With a hunk of bread and a small salad,” he says, “these soups are more than a meal even for big appetites.”
The one piece of advice DiCarlo offers on the subject of making great soups at home: “You only get a great end product by starting with great ingredients and not taking any shortcuts. It takes a lot of time to make great stocks from bones or quality vegetables, but the result is worth it.”
Italian Beef Soup
(serves 8-10 generously)
CHEF’S TIP: If you don’t have a good homemade beef stock, use canned beef broth or water with beef base added. To prevent a cloudy soup, frequently skim foam off top while cooking.
2 pounds beef brisket or round, fat trimmed
1 Vidalia onion or other sweet yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 large celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, whole
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 pound orzo, acini di pepe, or other small pasta
3 quarts beef stock
1 teaspoon Romano cheese, grated (per bowl)
In large stock pot, add beef, onion, garlic, and celery to beef stock. Simmer gently for 2 hours. Skim the foam from surface of soup every 20 minutes as it cooks.
Add tomato paste, carrots, and parsley. Simmer for 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Cook pasta separately in salted water until al dente. Shock cooked pasta in ice water to prevent overcooking.
Remove beef, slice, and return to soup. Place 1/2 cup of pasta in each bowl, and ladle soup over pasta. Garnish with grated Romano cheese.
Carrot Bisque with Ginger and Spearmint
2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or canola oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh spearmint, chopped, to garnish
Combine first 6 ingredients. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered until carrots are tender. Pure and add milk, butter, and pepper. Reheat over low. Garnish with spearmint.
Apple Winter Squash Soup
CHEF’S NOTE: Applesauce, onions, and chopped apple provide quercetin, a phytochemical thought to be beneficial for asthmatics.
CHEF’S TIP: Use Whole Foods own Basic Homemade Applesauce, which has a thickness that makes this soup particularly satisfying. For a vegetarian soup, use water instead of chicken broth, but increase the salt to 3/4 teaspoon.
1 large red bell pepper, cut lengthwise into flat panels
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 12-ounce package frozen winter squash
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 Granny Smith apple, minced
1 small red onion, minced
Broil pepper pieces skin-side-up for 5 minutes or until skin is charred. Place peppers in covered bowl and, when cool enough to handle, remove skin.
In saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add yellow onions and garlic. Cook, stirring, 5 to 7 minutes or until onions are lightly golden. Add roasted peppers and stir 1 minute until coated.
Pure sauted vegetables in food processor. Add applesauce and process just until combined.
Return pure to saucepan. Add winter squash, broth, salt, black pepper, and curry powder. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, 12 minutes or until squash has thawed and soup is piping hot.
In small bowl, stir together minced apple and red onion. Serve soup topped with apple-onion garnish.
Moroccan Lamb Stew
PAIRING TIP: A scented couscous is the perfect accompaniment for the stew. Serve fresh dates for an authentic dessert.
1/2 cup dried apricots
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 large onion, diced
1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
2/3 cup parsnips, thinly sliced
1/3 cup canned chicken broth diluted with 1/3 cup water
3/4 pound well-trimmed lean lamb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 8-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
In small bowl, combine apricots and boiling water. Set aside to soften. Reserving soaking liquid, drain apricots and coarsely chop.
In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Stir in cinnamon, ginger, paprika, turmeric, and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in onion, carrots, parsnips, and broth. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in lamb and cook until lamb is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in chopped apricots, 1/4 cup reserved soaking liquid, tomato sauce, chickpeas, salt, and cilantro. Cook about 10 minutes, or until lamb is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Stir in lemon juice and serve.
Shrimp & Vegetable Chowder
CHEF’S NOTE: This satisfying and delicious chowder is filled with chopped shrimp and a host of vegetables”including the unusual addition of diced sweet potatoes.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 tablespoon flour
1 1/4 cups canned chicken broth diluted with 1 1/4 cups water
1/2 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
1 cup low-fat milk
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, until flour is no longer visible, about 30 seconds.
Add diluted broth and sweet potatoes, cover, and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sweet potatoes are just tender, about 3 minutes.
With slotted spoon, transfer half the sweet potatoes to shallow bowl and lightly mash with fork. Return mashed potatoes to pan.
Add broccoli, bell pepper, thyme, and black pepper. Return mixture to boil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and milk. Cook, stirring gently, until shrimp are just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and cayenne. Serve immediately.
Pasta e Fagioli
(serves 4 appetizer portions, 6 main courses)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vermouth or white wine
1 16-ounce can cannellini beans or cooked cannellini beans
2 cups water or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon oregano, dried
1 tablespoon salt (less if using canned beans)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound tubettini, orecchiette, or elbow pasta
In large sauce pan saut garlic in olive oil until it begins to brown. Add vermouth or wine. Cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute.
Add beans, water, tomato paste, salt, and oregano. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add pepper and salt to taste.
Cook pasta separately, drain, and add to soup mixture. Serve immediately.