When we were kids we loved Fridays.

We would come home from school starving, excited by the weekend. There were eight of us and, as we were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays, my mother would often have made a huge pot of Pasta e Patate. With a couple of tins of tomatoes, some potatoes, an onion and half a pcaket of pasta she could feed us all. Tasty and filling, sprinkled with lots of grated parmesan cheese it was a real treat.

As a treat she would give us a poached egg in it . When you cut through the egg the soft, yellow yolk oozed out into the soup and mingled with the chesese. Heaven.

No wonder we loved Fridays!

PASTA E PATATE

Pasta and Potato Soup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 piece dried red chilli

1 clove garlic

1 onion, very finely chopped

2 floury potatoes, peeled and diced

400g tinned tomatoes

1.5litre hot water

Maldon sea salt and black pepper

a couple of handfuls of ditali rigate pasta (any small chunky pasta)

freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

fresh basil leaves.

Warm the oil in a saucepan.

Add the chilli and garlic and warm in the oil to relase some of the flavour.

Add the chopped onion, stir and coat with the oil.

Put the lid on and cook the onion slowly until it is soft and translucent. Don’t let it burn.

Whiz the tomatoes in a liquidiser and, if you can be bothered, strain out the seeds by pressing it through a sieve.

Add the sieved tomatoes and cook down the tomatoes for about 15 minutes.

Add the diced potatoes, a litre of hot water, stir and bring to a simmer.

Cook slowly for 40 minutes or so until the potatoes have softenedand started to fall into the soup.

(You can leave the soup at this stage and finish cooking the pasta when you are ready to eat.)

Add a further ½ litre of water and a couple of handfuls of ditali pasta.

Season with sea salt and black pepper and simmer for a further 15-20 minutes until the pasta is al-dente.

Add a few fresh basil leaves.

Check seasoning and serve in big bowls with plenty of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

If you want to add egg, once the pasta is cooked break one or two eggs gently onto the surface and let them poach in the soup for 4-5 minutes.

To add extra flavour you can add a chunk of parmesan skin into the pot as the soup is cooking. This softens and becomes gooey oozes out deliciousness.