A couple of days ago there was torrential rain in Los Angeles from morning til night that scoured the dirt off my car and bruised the flowers on the plants in my yard. When it finally cleared up the next day, I went out for a tour to check the damage. It wasn’t too bad, just a little debris from the palm trees and a few small branches from the dollar eucalyptus. But this was made up for by the new growth on my two rosemary bushes. I have two rosemarys, one in the front and one in the back yard. They looked so beautiful, I just had to take their photos.
This is the rosemary in the front yard. It is obvious that the gardener has convinced this one that it is a shrubbery, for decorative purposes only. Which is probably a good thing anyway, because its flavor is bland and uninteresting. Notice it has not one blossom to mar its box-like shape.
And this is my free range rosemary, a wild and wooly thing occupying the back corner of my garden. It is seventeen years old and has never been trimmed, except for what I take to cook with. It is covered with blossoms, with bees busily buzzing amongst the branches. If you run a branch through your fingers, they come away smelling so rich with resin-y promise. Which is what happened on my tour. I stood there smelling my palm, inhaling that pine-y aroma, and I just had to cook something using rosemary immediately.
Hearty Burgundy Lamb Soup is one of my favorite recipes that is flavored with rosemary. Please use Gallo Hearty Burgundy the first time you make this recipe, so you can get the full effect of its deep winey flavor. I know Gallo used to be for the cheap seats, but this is the wine I use for all my red wine sauces and in soups. I don’t drink it because it has sort of one big note, with no complexity. But that one note is the perfect flavor for dishes where complexity is created by all the other ingredients. I have tried other burgundy and red wines in this recipe and I ended up with a pale imitation. Trust me, use the Gallo.
Hearty Burgundy Lamb Soup with Rosemary
My market was out of ground lamb, so I bought a pound of Lamb Leg Boneless Sirloin Chops. I removed most of the fat and minced them in my food processor.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion 3/8-inch dice
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground lamb
2 cups Gallo Hearty Burgundy
2 14.5 oz cans Italian stewed tomatoes (I use S&W brand)
2 14.5 oz cans low sodium beef broth, or 1 beef +1 chicken
1/3 cup tomato puree or ¾ cup tomato sauce
½ tablespoon thyme, minced
2 tablespoons basil, minced
1 ½ tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup cooked riso pasta (I used De Cecco 78 Asini di Pepe) or more to taste
¼ cup Gallo Hearty Burgundy to finish (optional)
1. In a large Dutch oven, cook the onion in the olive oil until soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic, stir and cook for 1 more minute.
2. Add the lamb, breaking it up into small pieces, and cook until no longer pink. Add the Burgundy and stir in.
3. Place a strainer across the pot and dump one can of stewed tomatoes into it, allowing the tomato juice to drip into pot. Cut the tomatoes into bite sized pieces and add to lamb mixture in pot. Discard the little celery and other bits in the strainer. Add the second can of tomatoes and repeat straining and cutting. Shake as much tomato juice from the strainer into the pot as possible.
4. Add the 2 cans of broth and tomato puree. Stir in the thyme, basil and rosemary. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 30-40 minutes, until the rosemary is soft. Skim the brown froth from the surface periodically.
5. Add Kosher salt to taste, up to 2 teaspoons and pepper. Add cooked pasta to pot and stir in.
6. If you like a boozy soup, add ¼ cup Burgundy to pot right before serving. Or add 1 teaspoon Burgundy to each bowl. Serve.