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[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

I've been sautéing a lot of pasta recently. And the more I do it, the more addicted I become to the flavor. Much like cooking rice before adding water, sautéing brings out some incredible toasted aromas in the pasta.

The method is also a great way to spruce up very simple soups, including this one from Diana Kennedy's Oaxaca al Gusto. This is pure comfort food, but it's also one with a surprising amount of depth.

Now, I know the chicken livers are going to scare off a lot of people. That's understandable—and part of me thinks it would still work without them. But I like the little bit of funk they add. You'd never pick out the flavor, but they add a meaty backbone to each sip. Still, if it bothers you that much, just leave them out. The soup is flavorful enough to get by just fine.

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Swiss Chard and Pasta Soup »

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