A hearty winter soup: Lentil, Sweet Potato and Cavolo Nero

Whoever said that Sydney doesn’t really have a winter is a big, fat liar! This is my fifth Sydney winter and I can safely say, it does get cold, it does get wet, it definitely does have a winter. I have made the assumption that Australians are in denial about winter because every time I meet some Aussie friends all bundled up in woollen scarves and hats, I am told “This is the first time it gets so cold, this year I have to buy a heater”. Luck for me, I am now prepared for what’s ahead of me in the months to come and , along with coats and boots I have an array of weather-appropriate recipes like stews and soups.

Ingredients for 4 people

3 French Shallots or 1 medium sized brown onion, chopped up

3 tablespoons of Extra-virgin Olive oil

1 medium sweet potato, chopped, skin on (well washed!)

1 chunk of smoked pancetta, ham hock or speck (or chorizo)

2 cups of vegetable stock

1 cup of puy lentils

2-4 leaves of cavolo nero or kale, chopped up,  stalked removed

Parsley, chillie oil or chillie, lemon zest to serve

How to

1. Stir-fry  the shallots in a medium saucepan with 3-4 tablespoon of extra-virgin little olive oil. Add the chopped up sweet potatoes (skin on, thoroughly washed) and the smoked pancetta, or smocked ham hock. Stir-fry together with the onion for a few minutes, add the lentils, the  stock  and enough water to cover the vegetables. Simmer on medium-low heat for 35-40 minutes or until the sweet potato is soft and the lentils are cooked.

2. Add a couple of shredded cavolo nero* leaves (stalk removed) and let the residual heat wilt it.

3. Serve in a bowl drizzled with chillie oil or chopped up chillies, parsley leaves and finely grated lemon zest, if you like a bit of kick.

Curl up on the couch with a blanket, your favourite book or your favourite person…

* Cavolo nero is an Italian dark-green cabbage. You can substitute it with kale.

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Biscottini agli agrumi (Citrus cookies)

I can’t seem to keep up with my crop of lemons this year.

Every time I think I have picked the last two ripe jewels, three more appear from nowhere, begging me to be used in some sort of baking.

I can only oblige and obey the call of nature.

Today I was very keen to make lemon and almond Cantuccini, but I realized I didn’t have any eggs in the fridge.

Too cold to go out and fetch more, I quickly changed my recipe from Cantuccini to Biscottini , an egg-free, melt-in-the-mouth, Italian short-bread.

Today I felt lazy and I let my Kitchen Aid do all the mixing, even tough it is just as quick to do it by hand.

How to

Mix together 100 gr  (3/4 cup)of icing sugar with 150 gr (2/3 cups) of soft butter.

When the mixture is creamy, add 200 (1 1/2 cups) gr of self-raising flour, 50 gr (1/2 cup) of almond meal, 1 table-spoon of corn starch, a teaspoon of vanilla paste, the zest of 2 lemons and the zest and the juice of 1 mandarin.









The cookie dough will look and feel sticky. Use a spatula to scrape it onto a sheet of baking paper. Roll it up in the shape of a sausage and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.

Once it’s rested and feels firm, slice it up and place the biscuits on an oven tray and then back in the fridge for 10 minutes.









Bake at 170 C, 340 F,  for about 15 minutes, or until the edges start to color. Cool at room temperature.

Dust with icing sugar and dunk into Grappa…

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