Tuscan Country Soup 

Recipe from Jim Courtovich


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 pound pancetta, finely chopped  
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped 
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped 
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped 
  • 6 large yellow onions, sliced into large moon-shaped slices 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped 
  • 1 cup red wine 
  • 12 cups chicken stock 
  • 1 (12-ounce) package fresh spinach, washed 
  • 1 (8-ounce) bag frozen peas 
  • Parmesan cheese, to grate over top 

Add the olive oil to cover the bottom of a large stockpot and bring it to medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook it until it sweats. Add the parsley, carrots and celery. Cook for 6 minutes. Add the onions and thyme, and cook on medium-low heat, covered, for an hour. Stir occasionally until the onions are cooked down, but not browned. 

Stir in the red wine and cook it down until it has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and continue to simmer on medium-low heat for 30 minutes.  

Add the spinach and peas. Let the soup simmer another 5–7 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. 

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, grate Parmesan cheese over the top with a drizzle of olive oil.  

Serve with crusty, hearty bread. 

Back to the full story, Break Bread, Make Policy here

Lamb Kofta with Tzatziki Sauce 

Recipe from Jim Courtovich


  • 1 ½  pounds ground lamb 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • ½ small red onion, chopped finely 
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint 
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander 
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice 
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice 
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 2 eggs, beaten 
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Gently mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Roll the lamb mixture into small meatballs (not too tightly) and put out on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 15–20 minutes, depending on your oven. 

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 pound fat-free Greek yogurt 
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded but unpeeled, chopped finely 
  • 2 tablespoons basil 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill  
  • ½ cup sour cream 
  • Juice of 1 lemon 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced  
  • 1 tablespoon salt 
  • Pinch of pepper 

Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate for ½ day to let the flavor develop. Layer on the bottom of a serving dish and put meatballs on top. 

Salmon Ceviche

  • 1 pound skinless boned salmon, finely chopped 
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce 
  • ½ small red onion, finely chopped 
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Juice of 4 lemons and 4 limes 

Put chopped salmon in a bowl and add the soy sauce, onion, cilantro, salt and pepper and the lemon and lime juice. Let sit in the fridge, covered, for 2 hours. Serve on top of purple tortilla chips. 

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Jim Courtovich's Famous Puff Pastry Pizza

For Courtovich, holidays mean opening his home for gatherings—from intimate dinners to his famous large parties for 50 or more, held on sequential nights with rotating guest lists. And this pro entertainer has hacks for that. As he explains, successful entertaining relies on a plan and depends on a circle of trusted vendors, reliable shortcuts and proven recipes.   

This holiday dinner for eight showcases the “Courtovich” approach: a strong appetizer program, show-stopping main courses and a simply elegant layer cake from Sweet Teensy Bakery.  

Puff Pastry Pizza

Serves 8 

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (preferably Dufour), thawed 
  • ¼ pound soppressata (Italian hot dry salami, thinly sliced) 
  • 1 pepperoni (thinly sliced) 
  • 1 package mozzarella cheese (thinly sliced) 
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes 
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano 
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly 

Turn oven to 425°. 

Take a thawed sheet of puff pastry and place flat on a silpat or parchment paper. Use a roller to flatten out to almost the size of the baking sheet. Prick entire sheet with a fork and put in fridge for 10 minutes. 

Take out of fridge, bake for 8 minutes and remove. Layer the entire baked sheet with soppressata, then top with 1 layer of sliced mozzarella cheese covering the entire sheet. Packaged, pre-sliced mozzarella from the grocery works best with this. 

Sprinkle the red pepper flakes on the top of the cheese. Next, add a layer of pepperoni on top of the cheese, leaving ½ inch between each slice. Sprinkle with the dried oregano. Top with sliced Roma tomatoes to cover the entire pizza. 

Bake for 15 minutes or so on a high rack in the oven, or until the cheese is golden brown on the sides.  

Let rest for 5–7 minutes, then put on cutting board to serve.