A few weeks ago I was saddened to hear about the passing of famed Babbo pastry chef Gina De Palma. I knew that she had been battling cancer, but it still came as a shock that she was really gone. When I first discovered her book Dolce Italiano some years back I was smitten and began working my way through her recipes.
Today I cooked a dish of Gina’s, but it’s a savory one. Gina shared this hearty soup for blogger Adam Robert’s book Secrets of Best Chefs. I don’t have this book, but feel I should add it to my collection as its premise reminds me of my new favorite Genius Recipes from Food 52.
I hear that it’s going to be a snowy weekend in the northeast. If you have these ingredients in your cupboard this might just be the heartwarming dish that you’ll need to soften the blow.
Lentil Soup with Sausage and Swiss Chard
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
4 large links of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (I used 2)
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced or diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups shredded or thinly ribboned Swiss chard leaves or kale
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese to finish
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pot) in a large pot on medium heat. When hot, add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, and if you like your soup spicy, a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook with the sausage until the vegetables soften a bit, another 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, water, more salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. (It might be necessary to add more water if the soup gets too thick.)
When the lentils are cooked, add the chard and cook until the leaves are tender, just a few minutes more. Discard the bay leaves.
To finish, divide soup among bowls, drizzle remaining olive oil over soup bowls, and top with fresh Romano, passing more at the table. Leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge.
Take a look back at some of my favorites from Dolce Italiano. I think I should get back in the kitchen and bake a little dessert.
Zucchini Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Glaze
And a few I didn’t blog about – Sicilian Pistachio Squares, Sbrisolona, Ricotta Pound Cake and what may be my favorite recipe – Italian Apple Crumb Tart.
January 23, 2016 at 2:05 am
Thanks to you J. I have Gina’s book…and have enjoyed several of her recipes…am so sorry to hear of her passing but am heartened that you chose to honor her with the sharing of her recipes.
This looks wonderful.. lentils and sausage are quite a paring. I also just love her olive oil cake…one of the first things I baked after retiring and taking the time to explore baking.
Thanks for sharing.
January 26, 2016 at 1:44 am
Eatbetea-I hope that you will stile able to bake something from the book even though you are eating healthier than most of us. If not, the book makes good reading and brings us back to our Italian roots.
January 23, 2016 at 4:26 am
This stuff is amazing………
January 26, 2016 at 1:44 am
Cove Youth Band-thank you for being the best tester!
January 25, 2016 at 12:55 am
Gina was such an inspiration to so many. She fought valiantly against a terrible disease, I was so sorry to hear of her passing. What a lovely tribute. Gina will live on in our kitchens and in our hearts.
January 26, 2016 at 1:46 am
Adri-I love that book and thank you for reminding us about it a while back when you posted about Gina. I’m inspired now to try some other recipes. I’m sure you’ve probably baked your way through the whole book!
January 27, 2016 at 3:37 am
Hi, I have indeed worked through the book. It’s been years now since I purchased it, and I have made everything. It is such a treasure. After Gina’s surgery I was kept up to date on her progress through a high school friend of hers. It was just a really hard few months, especially at the end. She fought the good fight, but I guess some adversaries are just too strong. The whole thing makes me so darn sad. Like they say “Where’s the justice?” One thing, and I do not mean to sound corny, Gina will live on through all of us who make her food. It’s a legacy of which she can be proud.
January 28, 2016 at 11:06 pm
How wonderful of you to post this delicious recipe in honor of Gina. It’s so unfair, so sad to lose someone so young. Thanks for the post.
January 29, 2016 at 2:10 pm
We think alike – Gina has been on my mind as well. Last weekend, while snowbound in NY we were fortunate enough to dine at Babbo where here presence is strongly felt. After a Saffron Panna Cotta, I glided out of the restaurant.
Thank you for this wonderful remembrance, a great dish to prepare on Sunday with leftovers for the week.
January 31, 2016 at 11:31 am
What a perfectly lovely thing to do Janie. Brava!