~ Link to Zaira’s post about this same day! ~
The bowls you see are from The Freaky Raku.
If you listen closely to your heart and soul, you will realize that whatever you do is intertwined in a web of threads that meet, cross and caress each other. If you let them do their job, without forcing any thread into the weave yourself, you will see that the perfect drawing that forms is a sort of perfect alchemy; a miraculous mandala.
I like to call these threads ‘karmic links’.
And there is no doubt that my life is somehow connected to Venice and Veneto: many a time I found myself in that region, because of friends, or relatives, or events.
Of all these, my connection to Zaira has been the strongest.
When I saw her, talked to her, and entered her home, I did not only find a person that resonated with me: it is like I found a little piece of myself I had long forgotten of.
Her country home, just some 30 minutes from Venice, in the ’terraferma’ – the firm ground, is bathed in glorious sunlight and surrounded by trees and green bushes. The light softly seeps in from the dark green windows and gently lays onto the old, heavy wooden furniture. Everything hints at the artistic nature of her parents – Dorina, a teacher of engraving and etching, and Luciano, a well-rounded sculptor and painter: piles of old art books, drawings hanging on the walls, a piano sitting in the corner. As Zaira opens a door in the back of the house, she discloses a trove of wonders: her parents studio, a room with high windows and ceilings, is piled high with frames, paper, paint.
Everything in this scenery hints at my own past: the smell of oil paints – sometimes slightly rancid, and the smell of turpentine. The dust, and the feeling of cotton paper.
I am home.
As we lunch on radicchio risotto, bruschetta with olive paté and tuscan red wine, Luciano tells stories of a secret, untold Venice.
Its streets were not as trodden on and the old town was not as rich in the 50s: living above the canals was not considered a luxury, and Venice was mostly populated by Venetians. They grew up in Rialto – next to one of the most famous bridges in the world. The food was local, the feeling of community was strong. As tourism and rent rates increased, they were forced to flee to this countryside haven.
With their lovely Venetian accent still ringing in my ear, Zaira and I set up a little photography studio to shoot what would have later become our dinner. Zara and her boyfriend, Francesco, did not only live in Venice: their home is studded with treasured gathered from their time in Milan and from the marches aux puces from their time in Paris. Old letters, photos, linens, frames, cutlery and small chests. When it comes to treasure hunting, we are true sisters.
As we got back from a cloudy Venice, the sun blesses us with its presence and kisses the white walls of the country house. In that sunlight, we spent what was one of the best afternoons of my life: we chatted, cooked, and listened freaky music (more about this on Zaira’s post). I found in her a true friend – a true connection, that I have not felt for a long time.
This soup is like this friendship: made with genuine, freshly harvested ingredients; nourishing, healthy, and homey. The potatoes give creaminess, and the Tuscan kale adds healthy nutrients and the pretty green color. Prepare some garlic and extra virgin olive oil bruschetta on the side, and you will be set for a simple, yet unforgettable lunch – unforgettable as time together with friends.
- 2 medium leeks
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale (about 15.5 oz / 500 g trimmed)
- 4 medium potatoes
- 1 liter (4 cups) hot water or vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- Salt, to taste
- Grated Parmigiano cheese, to taste (skip if vegan, and use a little nutritional yeast instead)
- Peel the potatoes, trim the leeks of the green part and the kale of the hard stems. Wash well all the vegetables, then slice the leeks and kale and cube the potatoes.
- Add the olive oil to a pot and stir-fry the leeks for five minutes, or until translucent. Add the potatoes and stir-fry for 5 more minutes. Add the kale to the pot, and stir well. Cover the vegetables with the water or stock, cover, and cook on medium for 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. When ready, uncover, cook for 5 more minutes and add salt to taste.
- Blend the soup with a regular or immersion blender until smooth and creamy.
- Serve hot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmigiano cheese (or nutritional yeast if vegan). Pairs well with some garlic bruschetta, brushed with good extra virgin olive oil.
When lunching with friends, make creamy soup. Strengthen your bonds, and let life weave its beautiful patterns.