Grandma’s Favorite Soup (meat and vegetable soup)

This is a vegetable soup on which my brother and I grew up. It was loved even by my father who hated vegetables. It is a soup that my own children devoured even when a bite of a vegetable would make them gag.  It is a vegetable soup base that is pureed and becomes a thick base for chunks of veal, beef and pastina.

it wasn’t until my first trip to Florence that I realized this was a fairly typical Tuscan preparation and is called Zuppa Passato. I hope you enjoy it as ha e three generations of my family.


  • 1 lb carrots
  • 1lb celery
  • 1 lb onion
  • 20 oz tomatoes, preferably San Mariano tomatoes DOP (that means they are certified San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • 2 lb beef bones
  • 1lb chuck roast
  • 1 lb veal breast or shoulder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasonings
  • 1tablespoon salt

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Fresh Fettuccine with Lamb Ragu

The difficult and time-consuming process of rolling out fresh pasta by hand is a long lost art. Back in Italy, my great grandmother’s pasta making skills were renowned. When she arrived in America she stuck to her roots and rolled out her own fresh pasta by hand until the day she passed. As an ode to her memory, I decided to try my own hand at making fresh pasta. Italian blood runs through my veins and making fresh pasta really brought me closer to my heritage and the memory of my great grandmother.

Thankfully pasta machines have been invented which yield pasta just as good as hand rolled. With the pasta machine, it is simple to make your own pasta at home, which is exponentially better than the pasta you buy in a box at the grocery store. The difference between dried pasta and fresh is that dried is made of semolina and water while fresh is made of flour and egg. Fresh pasta is more tender and flavorful than its dried cousin.

To go with my homemade pasta I really wanted to make a sauce. I figured that it would be a shame to dump store bought tomato sauce on my fresh pasta. In my opinion ragus, a tomato based sauce with meat, are the best type of pasta sauces. Bugialli, who is the king of Italian cookbooks, inspired the ragu I made. I used rosemary, onion and pancetta to build a foundation of flavor for my sauce then added in lamb, tomato and chicken broth. I also added a little red chili flakes to add a little punch. The lamb slowly cooks in the sauce creating a stew, slowly getting tender and releasing its flavor into the sauce. The end product is so tasty you could eat it alone as a soup.

While there is art to pasta making, there is also an art to cooking pasta. Pasta is one of the most commonly served dishes in the world and is usually cooked incorrectly. The proper way to cook pasta is to cook it in very salty boiling water until it is 80% done, then drain it, and finish cooking it in sauce. By cooking the pasta in the sauce, it allows for some of the sauce to absorb into the noodles and cling to it. Anytime you have a bowl of pasta with a pool of sauce on the bottom, it was cooked incorrectly.

While making your own pasta and sauce at home is more time consuming then opening a box of dried pasta and a jar of store bought tomato sauce, the reward is well worth the effort and the process is fun.



For Ragu

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless lamb shoulder ProTip: Have your butcher remove any silver skin and excess fat and to cut the shoulder into 1 inch cubes.
  • 1 medium red onion diced
  • 1 scant tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 5 ounces pancetta diced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 14-ounce can tomatoes crushed ProTip: I like to use whole San Marzano canned tomatoes and then crush them by hand then drain off a majority of the canning liquid.
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon Calabria chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For Pasta:

  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • Large pinch salt

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