Friday, November 12, 2010

No Knead Pasta - Chard & Mushroom Soup with Fregola - Simple Saturday

Here's the secret to a no-knead pasta, called Fregola: Semolina, Water, and your fingertips. That's it! Fino!
Swiss Chard Mushroom Soup w/ Fregola
Fregola (pronounced, FRAY-Go-la) is Italian. In some parts of Italy the word is actually kinda naughty and means something like "messing around", if ya know what I mean. It has origins from Sardinia, but acts alot like couscous from the Middle East. When it's toasted, it has a little more warmth and nutty taste than couscous and you can't beat homemade anything, right? I first saw this pasta being made on television in Italy (their cooking shows are more like a variety hour sometimes and so fun!) I use Fregola in soups, salads, morning cereal, casseroles, and instead of rice or couscous. Once you make it, you can keep it in an air-tight container for many weeks. There are only 3 steps (2 if you don't want it toasted).
Pour SEMOLINA grains into a bowl (here, I'm using 2 cups)
Using your fingertips, sprinkle with water.
Using your fingertips, every now and then, stir in a big circle. The wet grains will start to form small pasta balls. Sprinkle again, fingertip stir, and repeat until most of the semolina has become small pasta.

Use a strainer to collect your Fregola and gather your unused or tiny fregola on a parchment paper or other bowl.Place your Fregola Pasta on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake/dry in an oven set on low/300F for about 45 minutes (stir the pan a couple times.)

You can also use your Fregola without toasting it. You would simply boil it like you do spaetzle or tiny dumplings.

Once oven dried/baked - you can let your Fregola Pasta cool to use now or later. You could make a lot to use some now and bag the rest in an airtight bag or covered container.

To use Fregola like couscous or rice: Bring 2 cups of stock or water, seasoned, to a boil. Add 1 cup Fregola and cook until liquid has been absorbed (usually about 10 minutes.)

OR: use this recipe I developed for one of my favorite twitter groups of talented bloggers, called #LetsLunch. (To join us each month or check out the tweets - just type the # sign followed by LetsLunch into Twitter online.)
A few years ago, during a time of not so great financial position (aka: barely keeping your head above water) the kids and I used to have "Soup Parties". It was one of those ways that we parents try to cover the stress of "stretching our grocery budget" for the week. The kids loved "Soup Parties" because they got to pick from several different soups on the stove and go back as often as they liked, and the whole table buzz was fun and laughing. Good thing, because "soup party" really meant; lets take everything we have left in the refrigerator and turn it into dinner.
Here's the thing: it has become a family tradition - a memory of great times instead of lean.

Fregola Pasta adds the fun noodle mouth play and some rib-sticking thickness to this very colorful and healthy soup:

RECIPE: Chard & Mushroom Soup w/ Fregola
3 Tbls or so of Olive Oil
salt/pepper to taste
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup of white wine (or stock, or apple cider)
1 large can of Whole Tomatoes chopped or hand squished
1 bunch fresh Chard
1 cup chopped Mushrooms
1 qt. Chicken Stock ( or vegetable stock, or water if preferred)
1 can Cannelini (or other white beans) drained
2 cups Fregola (handmade as above recipe, or store bought, or quick rice)
1) In a large skillet or pot, heat the olive oil and add the carrots, celery, and onions. Cook til tender (about 10 minutes)
2) Add the wine, and stir as the vegetables soak up the flavor. Season with salt and pepper.
3) Stir in the tomatoes, the mushrooms and the chard. Toss to combine.
4) Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes to develop flavor.
5) Add the Fregola and the Cannelini beans. Continue to cook for about 10-15 more minutes, stirring now and then. Add water or stock as needed.
This soup is one of those foods that actually taste even better the next day reheated; or maybe that's just me loving that it's right there waiting. :D
For more INCREDIBLY inventive and soul-warming Fall Soups - check out my #LetsLunch pals:

Cheryl Tiger In The Kitchen - Winter Melon Soup

Danielle Bon Vivant - Carrot Soup & Chicharrons

Ellise Cowgirl Chef - Potimarron ("Frenchy Pumpkin" Soup)

Emma Dreaming of Pots And Pans - Roasted Tomato Soup

Linda Free Range Cookies - Oven-Baked Soup

Mai Hoang Cooking in The Fruit Bowl - Apple Beer Cheese Soup

Steff The Kitchen Trials - Carrot Habanero Soup


ATigerInTheKitchen said...

I love the idea of soup parties -- hmm, time to organize one in my neighborhood! Thanks for the fregola recipe -- I've never made it but now I totally want to. Your soup looks totally delicious!

Mai said...

Wow! I love the no-knead pasta. That looks like fun.

And what a great use of pantry ingredients mixed with fresh produce.

Steff @ The Kitchen Trials said...

I love this! I love even more that i think I might be able to make this pasta by myself with a reasonable shot at success. Something I might not say in other circumstances.

Linda said...

Another creative and energetic post! I absolutely love the no-knead pasta tips!

Cowgirl Chef said...

So glad you posted this fab recipe - and the pix on how to make the pasta - it looks incredibly easy AND super-quick, which I just love. Have been Swiss chard-crazed lately, and since it's way cheap, I can't stop buying it. I'm going to try this next. PS I'm bringing my big spoon and crashing your next soup party.

Sippity Sup said...

This sounds like a lot of fun to make. Did you notice we were neighbors of Foodgawker to day? GREG

Nancy said...

I have to say, this is one of the best posts I've read lately!! I love the recipe, the story.. the whole package!!

I have never made this pasta but I am definitely going to be making it!!!

Renata said...

Well, I learned one more today: Fregola. Thanks for the complete tutorial! We're getting warmer every day here in Brazil now, but I will save this for next winter. Love it!

Cut `n Clean Greens said...

Love the fregola tutorial and how gorgeous this soup is! We'd like to feature this on our Facebook page and link to you so people can come here for the recipe. Please come LIKE us on Facebook

We <3 Chard!