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Makes 4-5 servings
❋ 200g lamb, diced (try and get stuff with fat veins, you don’t want it lean)
❋ 1 very large onion, diced
❋ 1 potato, diced
❋ 2 carrots, chopped into sticks
❋ 2 sticks of celery, sliced
❋ 8 button mushrooms, quartered
❋ 2 cloves garlic, crushed
❋ Fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano
❋ Copious amounts of salt and pepper
❋ Dash of red wine
Put the ghee or oil into the bottom of a large pot on high heat and chuck the meat in chunk by chunk. Fry it until most of the sides are brown, and add the onions. Stir well and sauté lightly, then add one by one the potato, carrots, celery, and mushrooms, continuing to stir it well. Add the herbs, salt, pepper and garlic. Put it on medium heat and cover the contents with water, adding a very generous dash of wine once it is boiling again. Simmer on low heat until lamb is falling apart, it will likely take 2-4 hours. Serve hot, with bread and butter if desired.
Notes: If you can’t get wine, add more herbs, and if you can’t get fresh herbs you should be able to use dried (try a half to one teaspoon of each). Most of these vegetables can be omitted (though not all at once obviously) if needed. Stew is very flexible that way. If you wanted to make it vegetarian you’d probably want some kind of stock, as the meat does do a lot of the flavouring here. Also when I say get meat with the fat on, I mean it. Lean meat will end up tough and chewy, fat veins will dissolve and leave the meat tender and falling apart just as you want it :D
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Etruscan Onion Soup
Today, I'll be taking a look at an Etruscan onion soup. It's the ancestor to a renaissance dish, "carabaccia", from the same region as Etruscan society (Tuscany), so it shares similar taste profiles that have been transmitted through the populations of Tuscany for centuries!
In any case, lets now take a look at The World That Was! Follow along with my YouTube video above!
500g onions (preferably red)
100g almonds (crushed)
500ml water (or stock of your choice)
1 - Prepare the Onions
To begin with, we need to peel and chop our onions. I'm using red onions here, because they're similar to the kind of onion found in Tuscany today, but really any onion works here. Cut each onion in half, and slice these halves into very thin pieces. Make sure they're all roughly the same size.
2 - Cook the Onions
When you're done dealing with your onions, pour some olive oil into a large pot. Toss your onions into this, along with a generous sprinkle of salt. This will help draw out the moisture from your onions, and stop them from burning in the pot. Place your onions over a very low heat, and let them cook and caramelise a little. This will take quite some time, like up to an hour, so keep an eye on it. Give it a stir occasionally, while you deal with your other ingredients.
3 - Crush Almonds
Now we need to roughly crush our almonds. You could also use pine nuts, or walnuts. Either way, crush the nuts into rough chunks. It doesn't need to be a very fine powder, as you'll want the bite from almonds. In any case, leave these aside while your onions cook away.
4 - Combine Ingredients
When your onions are soft, falling apart, and fairly translucent, toss in your almonds, your freshly ground black pepper, and a large squeeze of honey. Give this a stir, and place the pot back onto a medium heat. Let this all infuse and caramelise a bit more (for maybe 10 minutes). When it's all had a chance to mingle, pour in 500ml of water (or a stock of your choice) on top of all this. It may turn the soup from a deep purple, into a lighter broth, but don't worry! It'll turn out amazing.
Place your pot back onto a medium-high heat, bring this to a boil before turning down the heat so it's just simmering.
Leave your soup to simmer for about 30 minutes (or to your taste). Ladle up into a bowl, garnish with a bit of basil, and dig in while it's warm!
The finished soup is delightfully sweet, and very hearty! I made mine using plain water as a stock, and it was extraordinarily filling! Onions were a staple food for many societies in the ancient world, as they were easy to grow, and were very versatile. As a result of this, they were prepared in many different ways. The Etruscans were one of many ancient societies who had culinary traits that revolved around the humble onion (alongside pre-Dynastic Egypt and Mesopotamia).
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