Stovetop Appetizer: Serves 4
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 celery ribs, diced1 sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
3 cups chicken stock, well-seasoned, preferably homemade
3 lbs fresh Italian plum tomatoes, very ripe, peeled, seeded and diced
1 Tbs gin1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs vegetable oil
¾ cup fresh basil leaves, torn
Heat olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot. Add onion, shallots and garlic. Sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally for five minutes. Add carrots, celery and red pepper, lemon juice, sugar and chicken broth. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Strain out vegetables; return broth to the pot.
Puree vegetables in a food processor or blender and return to soup pot. Add tomatoes and gin; simmer for 10 minutes or until soup begins to thicken. Do not allow soup to burn.
Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add eggs and oil; beat until dough is sticky. Stir in ½ cup basil.
Drop dough by ½ teaspoons into a large pot of boiling salted water. Simmer dumplings, uncovered, until they rise to the surface and then three to four minutes longer, turning periodically until they are cooked through. Test by cutting one dumpling in half to be sure the center is no longer raw.
Drain dumplings in colander, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Set aside until ready to add to the soup.
Add dumplings to the hot soup and serve at once. Garnish with remaining basil.
Gilbertie, Sal. Kitchen Herbs: The Art and Enjoyment of Growing Herbs and Cooking with Them: New York, Bantam Books, 1988.