According to Wikipedia, "Foodies differ from gourmets in that gourmets are epicures of refined taste who may or may not be professionals in the food industry, whereas foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news. Gourmets simply want to eat the best food, whereas foodies want to learn everything about food, both the best and the ordinary, and about the science, industry, and personalities surrounding food."
The way I see it, becoming a foodie doesn’t have so much to do with your ability to cook, or your penchant for fancy gourmet food, but rather your openness to all food experiences and your willingness to partake in the great banquet of life by surrounding yourself with like-minded people and sharing the food you love. It’s about balance, too. This "foodie" enjoys her once-a-year Big Mac or the occasional plate of poutine just as much as I enjoy osso bucco, steak carpaccio or white truffles at a trendy eatery.
And yes, this foodie will always love the comfort food she grew up on like macaroni and cheese, shepherd's pie and meatloaf because it evokes beautiful memories of care-free, cold winter days spent tobogganing and making snow angels. Handed down from generation to generation on stained recipe cards and in tattered notebooks, comfort foods are staples for anyone wanting a hearty meal and a little taste of home.
“Too few of us, perhaps, feel that breaking of bread,
the sharing of salt, the common dipping into one bowl,
mean more than satisfaction of a need.
We make such primal things as casual as tunes heard over a radio,
forgetting the mystery and strength in both.”
Creating dishes at home in our kitchen doesn't need to include ingredients we've never heard of or endless hours over a hot stove. Take this soup for example. Lasagna for me is a comfort food from my childhood. I think we can all pull out a few fond memories of family meals with lasagna serving as the centre piece. Its caramelized edges, its bubbling cheesy top, its mouth-watering goodness all satisfy our souls. Lasagna is all about the layers where each layer holds a new flavour, each complementing the other. The ultimate soul-satisfying comfort food!
I hate to admit it, but it's getting cold outside. Really, really cold. And the only thing this kind of weather makes us want to do is give in to our desire to curl up with a plate of our favourite comfort food. This soup makes me want to wrap myself in a warm blanket and settle in for the night. I love how food brings people together, soothes hearts, and shows those you care about that you love them. When I was a child, so much of “life” happened in the kitchen and around our table and I still turn to food as a way to show people I care about them. The following recipe was based on one from 300 Sensational Soups and satisfied this foodies longings on every level. You don't even need to break your healthy eating goals with this calorie-wise version of the original layered creation.
You can recreate those feelings and tickle your tastebuds without making it an all day affair. This soup has all the flavour of a more complicated lasagna and recreates that emotional connection. If you have a well-stocked pantry you will already have all of the ingredients on hand and can have lunch or a light dinner on the table in one third the time. This soup is flavourful and hearty, and is brimming with meat, pasta and cheese.
2 teaspoons (10 mL) olive oil
1 lb (450 grams/16 oz) lean ground beef (you could use part sausage for added flavour)
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried oregano
1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried thyme
optional: 1/2 teaspoon ( 2 mL) crushed red pepper flakes
1 (32-ounce/4 cups/1 liter) container chicken broth
16-ounce (2 cups/1 pint) tomato sauce (passata)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
8 ounces (225 grams) fusilli or mafalda pasta (or other pasta of your choice)
1/2 cup (118 mL) chopped fresh basil, or a heaping tablespoon dried basil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8 ounces (225 grams/1 cup) ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (118 mL) shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 (1 mL) teaspoon salt
a few cracks of black pepper
2 cups 16 oz/500 grams) shredded mozzarella for sprinkling on top
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add ground beef, breaking it up as you go and cook it until browned and cooked through. Add onions and peppers and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes. If you’re using dried basil, add it at this point. Cook for about a minute.
Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
In the meantime cook pasta in a saucepan according to package directions.
Right before serving, remove the bay leaves, stir in the fresh basil if you’re using fresh, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
To serve, place a generous dollop of the ricotta mixture in each soup bowl, add pasta, and ladle the hot soup over the cheese. Let it sit for a minute for the cheese to get all melty, sprinkle mozzarella on top if desired and eat up.