I love Thanksgiving. Being together with family for gratitude and good food gives the day such a feeling of warmth. Plus, it’s the kickoff to the holiday season — weeks of family, friends, parties, decorating, cooking, and hosting.
Cooking delicious dishes and trading baking recipes is always exciting. But I also particularly love setting the table. Using new, vintage, and antique serving pieces and interesting details that I have collected through the years (or having my way with Mom Squared’s tables), can be creative, fun and inspiring. A vintage brass swan planter? Now it’s a candy dish. A folk art vase? Holds forks and knives for buffet style serving. Cake plates of varying looks and heights? A knockout dessert station. Why not collect and mix and match china by color and pattern?
Go by the holiday’s theme or do something unexpected. I like how cheerful the lemons and yellow hues below look for a winter holiday.
So, in the spirit of the holiday season, here are a few go-to’s for setting a chic table…Plus, my favorite soup recipe for a dose of cozy comfort food as winter approaches…
WISHING YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES A VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING FILLED WITH FAMILY, FRIENDS, LOVE, AND LAUGHTER.
AND THE RECIPE…
Excerpted from the wonderful The Family Dinner cookbook by Laurie David. A very special cookbook with fabulous recipes, plus it’s also a great read — and happens to be one of my go-to gifts! The book’s gorgeous photographs are by my dear friend Maryellen Baker, who is also responsible for the stunning vignettes and beautiful fine jewelry pics on Garland Collection’s website. Enjoy!
WHITE BEAN AND TINY PASTA SOUP
by Kirstin Uhrenholdt
8 ounces tiny past, like orzo, tiny shells or small macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped (optional)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 15-ounce cans cannellini or great northern beans, drained (or 5 cups home-cooked beans)
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup diced tomatoes, canned or fresh
Rind of a piece of Parmesan cheese (optional, but very tasty)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Slices of rustic bread, brushed with olive oil and toasted
TO MAKE 6-8 SERVINGS
In a large pot, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
Heat up your soup pot and drizzle in enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Sauté the pancetta with the onion until golden. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes more.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer under a lid for at least half an hour. (This soup is happy to sit and simmer quietly on your stove for an hour, although you might need to add a little broth.)
Remove the rosemary and Parmesan rind. Puree a cup or two of the soup in your blender. Even easier, stick a hand immersion blender into the soup for a quick moment, just until it thickens a bit.
Fold the cooked pasta into the soup. (If you have little kids, perhaps you should save a bit of pasta and use it as garnish, to assure them that there is something they like in the soup.)
Taste for salt and pepper.
On the rim of each soup bowl, balance a slice of toast, ladle the soup on top, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a few drops of balsamic vinegar, and a shower of Parmesan and parsley.
**Note: While it’s not part of the recipe, I like to add a bit of kale as well.