Unprejudiced Palate Italian Soup

It never fails.

It was gloriously warm the week prior to Spring Break.

Then, Spring Break hits and it gets frigid again.

It never fails.

I use Spring Break to bring out the warm weather outfits and put all the sweaters and wool garments to rest for the season.

Then, Spring Break hits and it gets frigid again.

Where’s that box of wool sweater?   I need them.


During the last weekend of Spring Break,  we were in KC and it actually snowed on Saturday.  We drove home to a frigid night and a windy and cold Sunday.  It was a perfect day for soup.

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Italian Soup for Cook the Books and “The Unprejudiced Palate”


Unprejudiced Palate Italian Soup

2 T. good olive oil
2 c. white onion, chopped (about 2 medium onions or half a large one)
1 c. celery ribs, chopped (about three ribs)
1/2 c. carrrot, chopped (about 1 medium carrot)
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/2 c. red wine (A drinkable variety but your choice.)
1/2 t. fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 t. fresh thyme, chopped
1 c. orzo
3 c. beef stock
2 c. water
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 can (15 oz.) Cannellini beans
1/2 t. fine sea salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot.   Add onions, celery and carrots.  Cook for 3-5 minutes until soft.  Add garlic and mushrooms and cook for one minute more.   Add wine and let simmer until reduced to about half.  Add rosemary, thyme, and orzo.  Saute for a few seconds.  Stir in beef stock, water, tomato paste, beans and salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer 10-12 minutes or until orzo is cooked.  Stir often so the orzo doesn’t stick.

Before ladling into serving bowls, taste and reseason as necessary. Top with a bit of Parmesan cheese.

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I created this soup to celebrate The Unprejudiced Palate: Classic Thoughts on Food and the Good Life by Angelo Pellegrini, the Cook the Books selection for February/March.   (Simona of Briciole is our host this round.)  unprejudiced palateAngelo M. Pellegrini was an Italian immigrant who spent his formative years growing up in Tuscany.   His family was poor and he foraged and scrounged and worked hard as a youth, gathering mushrooms and manure to help make ends meet.

Pellegrini’s life changed when his family came to America but he kept and promoted many of his traditional food beliefs, cooking young rabbits and amazing his friends with certain dishes featuring different varieties of offal.  He also reminiscences about scaring away a potential girlfriend and her parents after serving songbirds that he stalked with a trusty slingshot.

He served as a long-time professor of English at the University of Washington.

I enjoyed The Unprejudiced Palate but that English professor tone certainly comes through in his writing.  He considers himself the authority on cooking, gardening, and wine, and perhaps rightly so. Although Pellegrini’s tone borders on smugness, I can say that I felt educated by the time I finished the book.   First, published in 1948, this book is still relevant today as we should all strive to plant our gardens, make our wine, and eat with gusto.  Ruth Reichl, the editor of the Modern Food Library, calls him “one of the most opinionated people who ever lived.”

I would not have enjoyed being in a class with him discussing Chaucer.

I think he would have scared me.

Would Mr. Pelligrini have approved of this soup that borrows his book’s title?

I did not forage for the mushrooms or pluck the carrots from the garden; I did, however,  clip the thyme and rosemary from our herb plot.   And, this made a big pot, perfect for those impromptu guests that seemed to always be on his doorstep.   (He was known for his culinary skill among his friends and acquaintances and they always seemed willing to partake at his table.)  Of course, there is an entire section in The Unprejudiced Palate  on soup, one that Pelligrini admits he had to consciously abbreviate because of the vastness of the subject.

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Professor Pelligrini, I did make my own bread. Bonus points?


There is no possible way to even record a minute amount of wisdom from this book but I did want to share a few of Pelligrini’s words of wisdom:

Everything that man needs for the nourishment of his body and the elevation of his soul is as sacred as himself and should be so regarded. (p 41)

Eating the garden produce in the summer and throughout the year is pleasant as all hell.  (p 73)

Why are faculty clubs generally not equipped with bars? (p 105)

There are people, we all know, so vague and equivocal that it is difficult to know whether they are brilliant or dull. (p 127-128)

As you can see, he is serious, humorous and definitely clear on his opinions.   (Maybe I would have enjoyed discussing Chaucer with him.  If only those faculty clubs did have bars…)

Thank you Simona for recommending this book and introducing me to Pellegrini.  His other books on food and “the good life” follow:

I may have to find a copy of The Food Lover’s Garden.   I am sure that there is more I could learn from that old English professor.

(Please note that The Unprefudiced Palate was published in 1948 so there are lots of references to being a “good housewife.”  Dismiss it as a quaint historical reference and read on.)

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Please plan on joining Cook the Books for our next round, Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn.   Deb from Kahakai Kitchen is the host for April/May.


I am also using today’s post to link up to Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen.



32 comments to Unprejudiced Palate Italian Soup

  • You ought to hook with Deb’s Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen. the linkup is open now, I love adding a soup or salad to her linkup!

  • I can’t believe you’re getting snow!!! It’s actually a little cooler here this week… but that just means highs of 65. LOL! Either way, this soups looks delicious!

    • Snow was in KC which is north and east of us. (We took a much needed two day trip there the third week of March.) I am so ready for consistently warm weather though. It is coat season from 7 A.M. to 10:00 and then if we’re lucky, we can shed them at lunch.

  • Sorry about your spring break weather. It sounds like temps are going to take a nosedive around here this weekend—perfect time to make soup. Yours looks scrumptious!

  • Love your review as we had some similar feelings and your soup of course which looks fabulous, satisfying, and delicious. I was tempted to put beans in mine but I felt like I already had too much going on. 😉 Yes, I am sure you would have gotten Pelligrini bonus points for the lovely homemade bread accompanying it!

    Thanks for sharing it with me at Souper Sundays this week too! 😉

    • I enjoyed the book, Deb. It just had to be read in context with the times. I’ve had a few English professors like him. 🙂

  • mae

    A few years ago I read what I prefer to call “The Prejudiced Palate.” I found the author a tedious, tendentious self-advertiser, as you hinted when you said “He considers himself the authority on cooking, gardening, and wine.” You thought he might be right, but I didn’t find any evidence that he was.

    In addition to being vain, he’s an incredible male chauvinist of the worst old-world self-unaware school. Although his book dates to the 1940s, he has no use for the many achievements of women to that date, and more important, he views the women of America as incompetent, lazy, and inadequate to his lofty European standards. I wrote about him here:

    Your soup, despite its inspiration, sounds quite nice!

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  • Angie@Angie's Recipes

    The soup looks so warming and comforting and that homemade bread looks fantastic as well, Debra.

  • Weather! Always interesting, often in ways that are distressing. Sorry about your spring break. But happy you made this soup for us! Super recipe — thanks so much.

  • Oh Debra, I’m so sorry to hear about your chilly Spring break. I haven’t put the sweaters away yet. Hopefully we all will be able to stash them real soon:) Fingers crossed…

    That is one hearty sounding soup! I would definitely be dunking for sure!!! I don’t know of Mr. Pelligrini but I’m sure he would approve of this classic robust soup.

    Thanks for sharing, Debra…

  • It’s been a bit chilly out in California even. The weather keeps fluctuating. Thanks for the tip on The Unprejudiced Palate. I will have to pick it up.

  • I also asked myself whether I would have liked being in an English class with him. I imagine though that for the time he was probably an interesting professor, tending zucchini and crushing grapes in his spare time. Definitely bonus point for baking your own bread 😉 Thank you for your contribution to this edition of Cook the Books.

  • At least you had a consoling soup for bad weather! When I cook these days there’s always too much (just 2 of us now) so end up freezing the excess; good when a cold day arrives, to pull out some soup.

  • Your soup looks perfect! We always get April snow, so I feel y=for you & your snowy spring break weather!

  • I was horrified to discover that American faculty clubs are *not* equipped with bars! He should have taught in an Australian or English university.

  • Great minds Debra…I went with soup as well. Your version sounds delicious.

  • I’m laughing here now because I am confusing book club cooking LOL. I made pasta for this book and the soup I made was for BCCBCC.

  • cathy6c

    well parts of the book really repressent another day and time, but his ideas of eating from the kitchen garden rang true for me because this was my grandmother’s approach as an italian immigrant. cathy from Delaware Girl Eats