Authentic Suburban Gourmet: Perfect Italian Soup

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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
1/3 Cup Pearl Barley

1/3 Cup Pastina Pasta or Orzo

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.

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