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Tomato soup dresses up nicely with addition of spinach and pasta

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Recently, Kitchen Mailbox ran a request for Tomato Florentine Soup from Joan Pomatto of Apollo.


Mary Manella of Penn Hills immediately dug out her copy of "The Italian Cookbook, From Antipasto to Zabaglione," by the Editors of Sunset Books and Lane Publishing Co. There she found today's recipe.

According to the "Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink," by John Mariana, A la Florentina (AH-lah F'YOH-rehn-TEE-nah), or Florentine style, is a dish made with or placed on a bed of spinach. Today's soup contains spinach, as well as onions, garlic, celery, tomatoes and pasta.

The recipe Joan requested is made with ravioli. We used tortellini filled with ricotta cheese, although any pasta can be substituted. For a heartier soup we suggest meat-filled tortellini.

We served this robust and flavorful soup with a salad of mixed greens and fresh crusty bread. When fresh tomatoes hit the farmers' market, we'll make this soup again, and we're sure it will be even better.

One last note: Mary's cookbook was given to her almost 15 years ago as a wedding present -- it just goes to show that great recipes never go out of style.

Tomato Florentine Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small onion
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups packed, chopped fresh spinach
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen pasta (see note)
  • Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Heat the olive oil in heavy large saucepan, and add the onions, garlic and celery. Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat until the vegetables are soft. Add the oregano and thyme; cook another minute. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chopped spinach, pasta and fresh basil; stir to mix. Simmer for 12 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Serve with grated cheese.

Variations: Prosciutto can be added, as well as any vegetable you like.

Note: We added about two cups of frozen tortellini because we like a thicker soup.


Bobbie Dye of Slidell, La., writes: "I lived in Pittsburgh for 21 years and subscribed to the newspaper, and I remembered that you helped people find their lost recipes. I lost my favorite Chinese Chicken Salad recipe and I am hoping that someone still has a copy of it. It had cooked boned chicken breasts, cubed; rice that you cooked with turmeric; seedless red grapes; thawed peas; cashews; and, I think, pineapple tidbits."

Pat Horn of Eighty Four, Washington County, would like a recipe for coquilles St. Jacques, which consists of scallops in wine sauce topped with bread crumbs or cheese.

8 Writes Susan Eisel of Kill Devil Hills, N.C: "I am trying to locate a recipe for cranberry scones like those sold at a bakery on 8th Avenue in Homestead. I think the name is Blue Bonnet. These scones are light textured and not dark, like so many are. When I visit my son in Duquesne, I always stop to get some to bring home with me."

Ada Gutierrez of Bartlett, Ill., would like a recipe for vegetable chowder.

Diana Sirianni of Monroeville would like a recipe for English trifle. "If memory serves me right, the trifle had cake soaked in sherry, pudding or custard, some dried fruit and nuts and maybe whipped cream."

A request from Adele Vamos of Munhall: "Does anyone have a recipe for a dessert that calls for miniature marshmallows, coconut, mandarin oranges and dry orange Jell-O? I cannot recall the name of this dessert but made it once for a party. It was a big hit. There may be other ingredients but I don't remember them."

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh PA 15222; or e-mail toaburnett@post-gazette.com . Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence.

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