Growing up there was a special family style restaurant called Bancheros. It was completely old school Italian but we loved going there as kids. Often my parents would call ahead and pick up dinner to enjoy at home. My absolute favorite item on the menu was their soup. It was nothing fancy but the flavors were just supreme. Several years ago I learned that they closed their doors and it was like a really good friend who moved away or worse passed on. I would never be able to enjoy that special soup.
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About a year ago, a co-worker and I got to chatting one day and I learned that her husband’s family also enjoyed Bancheros. She also let me know that she had the recipe for the soup. My mouth almost fell to the floor. I was incredibly excited. After many trials and tribulations, she perfected the proportions. Once she gave me the recipe, I gave it a whirl. I changed some of the proportions and added the missing ingredient – garlic powder. The end result was pure perfection.
Over the holidays, I wanted to surprise my family by whipping up a batch of this delicious and satisfying soup. I just let them know that I was bringing a divine soup and that was it. Once they all tasted it, they were transported back to the days of Bancheros soup and were dying to get the recipe. It has taken me a bit of time to get around to making it again, so I could share with all of you. I know it is the first day of spring, but I felt like some soup for this weeks Friday Night Bites - something warm and comforting. It went perfect with homemade garlic bread and a rich bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Perfect Italian Soup
8 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Potato (peeled and cut into very small cubes)
2 Carrots, peeled and small dice
2 Celery Stalks, small dice
½ Cup Pearl Barley
½ Cup Pastina Pasta
½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
½ Cup Tomato Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parmesan Cheese for garnish when serving
In a large stock pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil and add the vegetables, barley, Pastina and garlic powder. Let cook on medium for about 30 minutes, and then add the tomato sauce and salt and pepper. Let simmer for another 30 minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese and garlic bread.