Five regional Italian soups recipes to warm your winter.
If I had to choose one example of most typical Italian I would say: soup. So I collected the best soup recipes (or the easiest) I found on the web for five traditional Italian soups. You might be surprised I’m not talking pizza and pasta, but I find just one common factor in real traditional Italian food. It’s poor. Not many decades ago, meat was not affordable to everybody and also the richest ate it only on Sundays. Most of the people counted on the production of their fields and gardens or on fish and mussels they could collect if they lived next to the sea. And certainly they did not throw away any food, finding the most inventive ways to reuse leftovers.
Don’t forget that some of the most iconic Italian food has a quite recent origin. Think about pizza: flat breads with on the top are common in all the Mediterranean, but pizza as we know it couldn’t exists before VXI century, simply because tomatoes were not available in Europe before the discovery of America. And even though pizza certainly had existed for centuries, it was only in 1889 that a pizza with tomato, mozzarella and basil, red white and green as the Italian flag, was dedicated to Margherita of Savoy, Queen of Italy. And the beloved Tiramisù? Apart of some legends about its origin, it has appeared in the cooking books only in the Eighties.
Soups represents better than any other the spirit of Italian food and maybe of the Med diet.
They are healthy and comfort especially in winter. A treat when outside is cold and you had a bad day.
Here’s a tour of Italy in five soups.
Fight the freezing Alpine winter with Trento style barley soup: Minestra d’orzo alla trentina.
Trento is the main city of the Alpine region Trentino Alto Adige. It give its name to a barley soup with bacon and vegetables. It can be interpreted in different ways. Bacon can be replaced by speck (the smoke ham typical of South Tyrol) or by a ham bone that is removed at the end of the cooking. To inspire yourself, have a look to this version on the website Chefbikeski.com
Boil it twice in Tuscany: Ribollita vegetable soup.
In Tuscany you will find many soups with the use of hard bread. One of the most famous is Ribollita. The name means literally “boiled again” and it’s quite self-explanatory: farmers cooked it one day and re-heated it the days after. It’s basically a handmade vegetable soup served hot on Tuscan bread. Black cabbage, beans and the not salted Tuscan bread are mandatory, then there are thousands of versions of the soup. With More or less liquids, with more or less bread and different vegetables. Probably every family had its own recipe. Here’s one example from the blog Divina Cucina.
Join the fishermen table: Cacciucco
I can’t help to add a fish soup in this list. Cacciucco is typical of the city of Livorno in Tuscany. It’s made by a number of different fishes, mussels and shellfish, cooked with tomato and hard bread. It was originally a poor dish, probably cooked by fishermen with the fish not sold at the end of the day. How many different fishes and which types is quite variable. According to the Accademia Italiana di cucina, it must contain octopus, squid, shellfish like prawns or mantis shrimp, smooth hound, twelve mussels and some “soup fish” like rockfish. But again, you will find different versions, just pick your favourite and use what is available at the fishmarket, as they suggest in this recipe on the local website Livorno now.
Rip it up in Rome: Stracciatella.
Stracciatella is considered a typical dish from Roma, but it’s quite widespread in Italy. It’s the simplest soup you can imagine indeed: it’s just egg cooked in hot broth. Stracciatella derived from stracciare, to rip up, because the eggs are broken in the hot broth and slightly beaten. Being so simple, you have to cook a wonderful broth by meat. Then it’s the easiest thing ever, like you can see in this video with Lucinda Scala on Martha Stewart website , perferct when you have a cold.
Tour Italy to find your favourite bean soup: pasta e fagioli.
“When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fazoo, that’s amore!” says the song. And this is really a soup that make nearly all Italians drool. Every region has got its version and everyone thinks that his own recepy is the original one. I found tons of recepies in the food blogs searching the original one and I couldn’t work it. In Veneto they use borlotti beans, in Tuscany and Naples the white and creamy cannellini beans. In Northern Italy it’s typical to add bacon or lard, but the recent versions are lighter and completely vegetarian. Someone adds tomato sauce, someone not. Someone uses crumbled leftovers of mixed pasta, someone fresh hand made egg pasta. I link the Antonio Carluccio version and I quote him: “For me, it is the benchmark of a good chef-because it is so simple, it must be perfect”. But don’t forget that with canned beans and mixed pasta you can quickly arrange a healthy and tasty dinner. Nearly perfect.