5 of Giada's most comforting early fall recipes

From delectable soups to a classic chicken dish, turn to Giada De Laurentiis for autumn comfort food

By Michael La Corte

Deputy Food Editor

Published September 16, 2023 12:10PM (EDT)

Giada De Laurentiis (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Giada De Laurentiis (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Fall is almost here. Can you feel it in the air?

I don't know about you, but as the weather cools, I want to be in the kitchen more and more — and of course, that usually involves lots of Italian comfort foods, which also means I'm turning back to the work of Giada De Laurentiis. 

De Laurentiis is one of the foremost, widely-known Italian-American chefs and is both stalwart in the food media world and in my home kitchen.

Back when I first started whipping up dishes in middle school, she and Rachael Ray were two of my go-tos. Their Italian-leaning, simple, quick meals taught me some of the bare bones fundamentals of cooking, culinary intuitiveness, knife work and much more.

De Laurentiis' 2005 cookbook "Everyday Italian" and her show of the same name steered me in the right direction, helping inspire my decision later on to attend culinary school. This is where the lessons taught by my family, my Food Network favorites and a multitude of recipes were clarified and sharpened by professional chef-instructors.

My copy of De Laurentiis' debut cookbook, now stained with tomato sauces galore and with lots and lots of bookmarked pages, was one of the books that I returned to again and again in order to sharpen my skills. Her style is simplistic and direct: Nothing frilly, nothing ostentatious — just really, really good Italian-American dishes made well. 

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Giada's Italian-coded dishes shine any time of year, but there's something special about cooking (and enjoying) her recipes in the fall.

As that familiar chill creeps into the air, stock up on some Parmigiano Reggiano, lots of tomatoes and basil, some proteins, tons of pasta and a few other staples to make some cozy comfort food favorites that'll satisfy you and all of your loved ones this autumn.

I wouldn't say Giada is necessarily known for her soup recipes, but after one taste of this, you'll wonder why. A simple combination of artichokes (frozen, for convenience), potatoes and leeks becomes the silkiest, creamiest soup imaginable with some assistance from garlic, stock, mascarpone and lots of chives for garnish.
It's the perfect dish to curl up with once the autumnal weather turns blustery or rainy.
Eggplant rollatini, a true staple within the Italian-American oeuvre, is an ideal starter (or small meal) and, for whatever reason, often feels like less of an undertaking that eggplant parmesan. So take it easy on yourself and make rollatini, which is sure to always be a tried-and-true crowd pleaser.
Giada's version also includes toasted pine nuts, which I think is an excellent, pleasantly surprising addition to the classic. 

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This is obviously a classic, no matter which recipe you use. Flavorful, perfectly seasoned broth with tiny meatballs, eggs, endive and lots and lots of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Giada's iteration is one of my absolute favorites. Feel free to swap in ground turkey, chicken or any plant-based "meats" instead of beef or pork, if you'd like. If you can't find endive, spinach or any type of chard would also work. And feel free to omit the egg is you're not into that component.
Regardless of your customizations, it's hard to beat this one.
This slightly lighter option — but still just as comforting — calls for fregola, which is one of my favorite underutilized ingredients. A tiny pasta akin to Israeli couscous (with a touch of pastina's bite) is mixed with mussels, clams, tomatoes, Marsala or sherry and a smattering of freshly chopped parsley.
It's a bright, flavorful dish — and it might cause you to start including fregola in your weekly meal line-up
A truly top-tier main course option (or perhaps date night or dinner party possibility?), Chicken Florentine is simple and straight-forward enough, yet feels perfectly elegant. 
Simply sautéed chicken breasts are gussied up with butter, shallots, garlic, wine, cream — and of course — spinach, all coming together to create one perfect entree. It's also a real looker: sliced chicken breasts, verdant spinach and rich, creamy sauce. It'll be a smash hit . . . trust us.

By Michael La Corte

Michael is a food writer, recipe editor and educator based in his beloved New Jersey. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, he worked in restaurants, catering and supper clubs before pivoting to food journalism and recipe development. He also holds a BA in psychology and literature from Pace University.

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