IT'S GNOCCHI IT'S BROCCOLINI
During the early throes of the pandemic, I was consistently making soup out of my home kitchen every week. Every Friday my best friend would come over and we would drink a case of truly and throw down in the kitchen. It was during one of those wonderful quarantine evenings that I invented this soup. It was a smash hit among the OG brothmonger customers and continues to be wildly popular for good reason. It’s hands down one of my favorite soups and I think one of the best soups I have ever had. Top 3 fav status. I don’t know what it is about broccolini and broccoli rabe that makes them the number one vegetables and therefore the best thing to put in a soup.
If you can, the best thing to do is go to Parma Sausage in the Strip District and get their spicy Sicilian sausage. That is the sausage that I originally used in this recipe, and I try to use it every time I make this soup. That said, sometimes it’s hard to get to the Strip, and Parma keeps odd hours. Just try to find the best quality Italian sausage that you can. I like to use hot sausage, but if you prefer sweet, that will also work.
In a recent newsletter I talked about improvisation, and here is a perfect example of it. Sometimes you go to the grocery store for your soup ingredients, and they only have wheat gnocchi and gluten-free gnocchi—or no gnocchi at all. But you know what they do have in abundance? Potatoes and flour. So, you grab a bag of potatoes and resign to the fact that this is going to be a lot more work than you intended. But, the ultimate result will be well worth it. You’re about to go home and make gnocchi from scratch.
The first time I ever made gnocchi it was for this soup, and I learned how to do it by watching Nino Asaro on Instagram. If you aren’t familiar with him, he is the heir to Partanna Olive Oil and he is a hot twenty-something Italian boy living in NYC. He makes cute little cooking videos on his Instagram highlights and if you can’t tell by now, I love him. Does anyone know him? Can you give him my phone number? Anyway, he’s @ninoasaroil on Instagram. See for yourself. If they do have regular gnocchi at the grocery store, feel free to buy it and save yourself the extra work.
You can use broccolini or broccoli rabe or both, but not broccoli. I used one bunch of broccolini and one bunch of broccoli rabe, and I recommend that route.
2 lb. sausage
1 tbsp. red pepper flake
1 large onion, diced
20 garlic cloves, sliced
1 bunch broccolini, roughly chopped
1 bunch broccoli rabe, roughly chopped
3 qt. chicken broth
1 lb. gnocchi
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage over medium heat until it is fully cooked. The sausage will release a lot of fat, do not strain it off. Add red pepper flake, onion, and garlic and bloom the aromatics on medium low heat until the onion and garlic are soft and translucent. Add the broccolini and broccoli rabe and sauté until they begin to soften. Add the chicken broth. Bring the soup to a low boil. Then reduce the heat, and simmer until the broccolini and broccoli rabe are cooked through. Turn off the heat, and let the soup sit on the stove while you prepare the gnocchi. Or, if using store bought gnocchi, bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, and boil until they begin to float. Then use a slotted spoon to transfer them into the soup. Top this soup with parsley or basil, more red pepper flake, and freshly grated parmesan cheese. This will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days. I wouldn’t freeze this one.
4 - 6 Yukon Gold potatoes
2 cups of flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
Coat the potatoes in olive oil, and roast them on a sheet tray at 425° F for an hour and a half or until they are softened and the skins begin to pull away from the meat. Let the potatoes cool. Then use a paring knife to peel off the skin. Keeping them on the sheet tray, use a potato masher and then a fork to mash the potatoes, making sure to get out as many lumps as possible. You can also use a ricer if you have one. Don’t over mash them. Add the egg and salt to the potato and use a bench scraper or rubber spatula to mix it in. Add the flour in ½ cup increments and continue to mix the flour into the potato until it is no longer sticky and forms a dough. The potatoes should not be gluey or gummy and should not stick to the tray. You may need more or less than two cups of flour depending on the water content of the potatoes. Once your dough is formed, knead it on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. Use a bench scraper or a knife and cut it into strips. Roll each strip into a long rope, and cut it into one-inch pillows, pushing each piece away as you cut. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and drop in the gnocchi. Once they are floating (two minutes or so), use a slotted spoon to transfer them into the soup.
I recommend shopping around for recipes, especially when it comes to making any pasta. You’ll find that the amount of variation on the internet can be frustrating which is why I always like to read three or four recipes before making a game plan. Additionally, watching videos can be extremely helpful. If you are going to make this gnocchi recipe, I recommend first watching the highlight video titled “Japa gnocchi” on Nino’s Instagram, mentioned above.
Happy Friday, thanks for coming and I will see you back here next time. Be careful out there in the wet, slippy world. Keep your car out of the ditch. Make this soup and show it to me and the world. Water your plants. Take a bath. Listen to Radiolab. Call off work. It’s February baby.