spaghetti & pasta soup

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It took me years to perfect my spaghetti. Although it’s a very easy dish to cook (as I think it is now), I started cooking Italian only about 5 years ago. I bought a small recipe book about how to cook simple Italian dishes. My version of spaghetti is an asian fusion (or whatever that means he he he) – sweet spaghetti everybody loves back home w/ some Italian touch ala-Sopranos (this is what I get from watching it).

Ingredients for the Spaghetti:
1/2 kg. ground pork (no fatty parts as much as possible to avoid an oily dish)
1 cup of sliced hotdogs
2 tomatoes
3 tbsp. garlic, finely crushed
1 onions finely sliced
1/4 cup of cubed carrots
1/2 cup of cubed mushrooms (for me, any type of mush room will do)
1 bottle of catsup (choose a sweet tomato brand, not the sour one)
2 tbsp. of sugar
salt & pepper
about 2 cups of water
Italian herbs (a combination of basil, capsicum, oregano, parsley, rosemary, garlic, etc. w/c u can buy in a small bottle from the grocery)
3 tbsp of cooking oil
3 tbsp of butter
parmesan cheese (any quickmelt cheese will do or grated cheddar cheese)
cooking oil
500 g. uncooked pasta

Ingredients for the pasta soup:
2 tbsp. garlic, finely crushed
1 onions finely sliced
1/4 cabbage, sliced
1 potato, cubed
1 carrot, sliced into wedges
2 pcs of bacon, sliced (optional)
1 cup of cream
salt & pepper
italian herbs

In a pot of boiling water w/ a little cooking oil & salt, drop the pasta & cook over medium heat (constantly stirring) until al dente. Drain the cooked pasta & set aside the water used for boiling it.

In a large saucepan, fry the garlic in little oil & butter over low heat until golden brown. Set aside some of it for the pasta soup. Add the ground pork (w/ little salt) & cook over medium heat until a little brownish. Add the onion, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms & ham. Stir-fry. Pour a cup of water (get from the water used for cooking the pasta), then add the sugar, salt, pepper, & catsup. Cover & simmer until the tomatoes are crushed & the sauce is thick. According to Furio of The Sopranos, don’t make it soupy like those they serve in american fast food restaurants. Sprinkle w/ parmesan cheese & Italian herbs.

A tip from HBO’s The Sopranos: the secret to a good italian spaghetti is to cook the pasta a little bit more w/ the sauce while constantly stirring it for about 5 minutes (as i remember it in one particular episode). So that’s exactly how i do it. Mix the pasta w/ just enough sauce (set aside most of it in a serving bowl) over low heat for about 5 minutes. That’s it! Pour the sauce over your spaghetti serving & sprinkle more parmesan cheese & Italian herbs!

The pasta soup, on the other hand, is like cooking chicken macaroni soup minus the chicken. Fry the sliced bacon for about 3 minutes. Add the onion & stir-fry for another minute. Add the water used for cooking the pasta as the pasta adds a different flavor to the soup. Bring to boil. Add salt, pepper, the potatoes & carrots, & boil until the potatoes are almost done. Then add the cream & bring to boil over medium heat w/ constant stirring. Add the cabbage & Italian herbs, & bring to boil. Sprinkle w/ fried garlic & serve hot together w/ the spaghetti.

Unexpectedly, our interpreter came & had lunch w/ us. She liked my spaghetti as it is more appealing to the mainland chinese taste & her comment about my soup was that it tastes like pizza hut. Funny but for me it’s a compliment!
Related Articles:
Singing Spaghetti

Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner. – Sophia Loren

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I am not a professional cook. My only claim to having a culinary background is a short stint as my dad’s teen ‘sous chef’ in his carinderia ages ago. Dad ran small eateries since I was a young kid - serving standard ‘turo-turo’ food ranging from the likes of menudo, adobo, pritong isda, dinuguan, binagoongan, bopis, munggo, pinakbet and giniling to merienda fares like goto, ginataan, pancit bihon, halu-halo and saging con yelo.

My father, a farmer in his hometown before working his way to becoming an accountant, definitely influenced my cooking in a lot of ways than I thought. My siblings and I were raised in a backyard full of fruit trees and vegetable garden. We spent weekends and the summer breaks running around with ducks, chickens, goats and pigs. I had wonderful memories of gathering eggs, butchering chickens, selling vegetables and the sweet aroma of preserved fruits. But my love for art led me to a degree in Architecture. Just few months after getting my license, I went abroad and lived independently at age 23. Definitely no maid, no cook, and a totally different food culture. Along the way I met lots of friends and spent what seemed a lifetime learning new tricks and recipes.

Now living in Auckland, I am a work-from-home mum who juggles time between work, fun and family - in pursuit of work-life balance. No matter how busy I am, I love the idea of cooking for my family. My blog chronicles home cooking greatly influenced by life outside my home country from Southeast Asia to Beijing and Auckland. And most of the time, being busy also means easy (sometimes quick), affordable meals.

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