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When I was still a graduate student, I would leave the library just before it closed.

Winding down Via Sant'Antonino where four little pigs sat stuffed, clutching forks and knives, checkered napkins tied around their necks like the ropes that suspended prosciutto from the ceiling of the shop behind their table, I headed toward the bus at Santa Maria Novella.

Often it was one of those accordian monsters, the front of the vehicle attached to the rear by pleated folds of a substance that resembled vinyl. If the bus was really packed, there was nowhere to stand but on the metal platform between those folds, pitching and adjusting your balance with every turn down narrow streets while the space around you expands and then contracts over and over until it stopped beside the lumber yard far from the city center.

From there, the walk home was through twisting, dark passages lit by electric candles set before Madonnas enshrined within the towering walls. At the end: a club for working men; above, my apartment. Behind that, fields where the rooster crowed just before the light returned to us once more. I shared the space with three other students. We would collect in the kitchen when it got really cold which it did that winter. Instructions on the wall advised us to turn on the heat only in the evening and only until we went to bed. Even when the heat was on, it was barely enough for the two of us from the U.S. We wore layers upon layers and walked around with hands wrapped around mugs of tea. We sipped lots and lots of soup.

Kevin's thread on ragu has gotten me to think about that nourishing soup.

If you are also as grateful as I am for thick, substantial winter soups from Italy, I would love to hear from you, whether it is a recommendation of a favorite restaurant, or recipe or advice you'd like to share based on soups you have made yourself.

Since this post is rather lengthy, I will mention only two sources very briefly:

1) in Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen there is a recipe for ribollita that strikes me as amazingly Tuscan and authentic. It is now a favorite.

2) Wasserman-Miller's Soups of Italy is now on sale at JessicasBiscuit. Based on what I have made from a copy checked out at the library, I highly recommend the book.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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What a great intro to the thread!

Soups with some sort of bean seem to be de rigeur for this time of year for me. I'm still working on the pasta e fagiole, Emilia-Romagna style from last week. That's a whole category unto itself, all interesting interplays between the bean, the pasta, and the thick, starchy liquid they make together as they intermingle. Tuscan bean soup is an exercise in simplicity and so nourishing and right.

An absolute favorite for bean-based soups is la jota, the bean and sauerkraut soup of Friuli. I can't think of a better way to while away a frigid night.

Another favorite is a hearty winter minestrone, no real recipe, just something I've improvised over the years that involves whatever dried bean I have on hand, base aromatics, potato, rosemary, broth, and a small can of tomatoes to give the broth a good nourishing zip. Once it's been cooked a while, about thirty minutes before it's done, I add some Tuscan kale in slivers.

Got to, got to, got to have crusty bread jotted with olive oil to go with a soup though.

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Let me add my enthusiasm for your opening post. Your descriptions are evocative. I ordered the Soups of Italy book. As you suggested. From Jessica's Biscuit. On sale.

Thanks.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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A chick-pea soup that my Italian mother-in-law used to make.

I'll see if I can find a recipe later tonight.

Beef broth. . .chick peas. . .tomatoes and aromatics of course. . .and the final step was a pour of olive oil straight into the soup (immediately before eating) with a final sprinkling of fresh herbs.

Luxurious, really. A luxurious peasant soup.

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A chick-pea soup that my Italian mother-in-law used to make.

I'll see if I can find a recipe later tonight.

I'll be loitering around here....waiting....

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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:biggrin: Jeez. The guilt is terrible.

Okay, for once it was an easy recipe to find. Here it is:

3/4 C dried chick peas

1 -2 Tbs. chopped garlic (as you like it!)

3 Tbs. olive oil (she used Bertolli all-purpose being a mother of six children with a husband who supported the family as a barber, but I imagine it would be even better with ei ei ei EVOO?)

1 tsp. rosemary, crushed dried

2/3 C canned Italian plum tomatoes coarsely chopped with their juice

1 1/2 C rich beef broth (or substitute any sort of stock in a pinch)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 Tbs. olive oil per bowlful

1 Tbs. freshly minced herbs per bowlful (she would use flatleaf parsley, thyme, basil, mint, whatever was at hand)

1. Soak chickpeas overnight (or do quick-cook method). Discard water and rinse.

2. Cover ceci with water to cover plus an inch in heavy pot. Bring to simmer and cook one and one half hours. Test for "doneness". Simmer till they feel "right" to your teeth. :biggrin:

3. Meanwhile saute garlic in 3 Tbs. olive oil. Add rosemary and tomatoes. Simmer half an hour.

4. Stir tomato mix into cooked ceci with broth. Simmer half an hour more. Season with salt and pepper, ladle into bowl and top with olive oil and herbs. Serve with a nice hot loaf to sop with.

Disclaimer: I haven't made this recipe in many years. I do know that she wasn't much for measurements in cookery and often I remember needing to adjust liquid ingredients when she would give me a written recipe. :wink: But the spirit is here for what this soup is (in this recipe) and I am sure that any good cook will be able to make whatever small adjustments are needed.

Basta, ya!

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Hey, thanks. Won't have an opportunity to try it until next week. But then I will. And I'll get back.

Appreciate your taking the time to find it and post it.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I am so glad to see that others are interested and generous enough to post!

Thank you one and all. Kevin, I have not done your blog justice having joined eGullet later than your resolution began, so I really am grateful for the link to the soup and dishes from Friuli.

Karen, I appreciate your generous sharing of something from the family. The recipe is very close to something I have made from Marcella Hazan's books where I pencilled in "God must speak to Marcella a lot!" the first time I tried it. [Disclaimer: I speak in cultural discourse, not being religious myself.] She specifies fresh rosemary at the end. I love the practice of adding an herb-infused oil as a finishing touch, especially when it comes to rosemary, a flavor I find overwhelming and monotonous sometimes when incorporated into a dish that I eat throughout the week.

Linda: I recently discovered how good chestnuts are in bean soups and cavalo nero is one of my favorite greens in the world, so thanks for the link!!!!

And Jaymes, I am glad that I inspired you to buy Wasserman-Miller's book. I suspect it may not have sold well initially because many North Americans only know one kind of minestrone & straciatelli, perhaps. Also, the author is fond of using Italian terms for different stages of preparing a soup and that might have been off-putting to novices. As I said, though, the book has a wonderful range of soups and I intend to invest in my own copy soon.

Nothing to post of my own at this point, though I will return later.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I just heard of this new book by Domenica Marchetti, “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy (Chronicle, fall 2006). Not in time for this season, but thought you might like to keep it in mind for next year.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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Ruth: Thanks for the advance notice. Those small books from Chronicle are beautifully produced, so I look forward to seeing the outcome of this project.

ETRTIB, MSPF

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I am soup!

When winter sets in in Florence, it sets in your bones. Think stone walls and terrazzo marble floors are hard to heat.

Yes, there is a law on how much heat you can use in Italy, and most apartment buildings are controlled.a few hours in the am.. and then again in the evening, never long enough to heat the stone!

On my site I have the Zuppa di Verdure from Trattoria Mario's and the Yellow Bell Pepper soupfrom Cibreo .

As in ragu, there is no ONE recipe for minestrone. Mine is my mother-in-law's who was born in Figline Val D'Arno, but lived in Florence. Ribollita always begins with Minestrone, and then Re-boiled, with stale tuscan bread. But Minestrone DOESN'T always have beans in it.

As you can see with the difference in Trattoria Mario's Vegetable soups which is mostly Beans carrots and cabbage ( really poor version) and my mother in law's which is really rich in variety of vegetables, but no beans.

Yesterday I just whipped up a Kale and Sausage sauce,, which I ate half of stirred into a risotto,the rest will be stretched into a soup!

On the village where I live, Certaldo, near San Gimignano, they make an onion soup.. using the ribollita technique, instead of the French way of floating a toasted peice of bread.

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  • 10 months later...

Gray skies in fall call for soup, too, so I am bumping this thread up.

Having prepared an Umbrian dish with freshly shelled beans from the market, I combined remainders with the rest of the beans and their broth and made a soup with additional onion, carrots, celery, an orange pepper, chicken stock and the last of the last tomato sauce I had a chance to make before the season ended. One of the rinds of Locatelli pecorino in the freezer made its way into the pot, too along with parsley, a bay leaf and a pinch of cayenne.

And while it may not be the slightly nutty, but soft brown farro, pearled barley is a fine substitute; I just cooked it separately and added only what I needed for a serving since it would otherwise soak up all of the liquid and turn leftovers into salad.

* * *

Another reason I am bumping up this thread will become obvious in just a second.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I thought it might be handy to link some of zuppe, brodette, etc. that have been documented on this regional forum thus far, especially during the year-long regional cooking threads of 2005 and 2006.

It might be useful to browse should someone wish to make an Italian soup after pondering options.

For example, in January this year, Judith began an elegant multi-coursed meal from

Piemonte with agnolotti in brodo, accompanied by home-made grissini.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Hey, good idea! It got downright blustery here last night and now suddenly that's all I can think of too.  Umbrian lentil soup, here I come!

If it's Umbria, it must be lentil soup:

Umbrian Lentil Soup

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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The other night I was looking for a good soup to make with a big Italian dinner I was making for friends. I made Minestrone alla genovese (Genoese Vegetable soup with Pesto).... it had a lot of hearty vegetables, beans, etc..., and then when it was finished off with pesto I had just made with basil from my garden it was really delicious! A big hit at the party.

It was from Benedetta Vitali's cookbook "Sofritto," a really wonderful Tuscan cookbook (they have it on amazon.com) with really great recipes and photography! Benedetta is a big chef in Florence, she co-began Cibreo, and now own's her own restaurant Zibibbo. One of my favorite Italian cookbooks. Anyhow, a great soup and thanks for starting this topic!

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...I made Minestrone alla genovese (Genoese Vegetable soup with Pesto)....A big hit at the party.

It was from Benedetta Vitali's cookbook "Sofritto," a really wonderful Tuscan cookbook...Benedetta is a big chef in Florence, she co-began Cibreo, and now own's her own restaurant Zibibbo...

Sounds great! Thanks for the recommendation of a cookbook and a restaurant, both unfamiliar to me. Please join us in the cooking thread in this forum next month when we move from Umbria to Tuscany.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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oh boy.. Tuscany.. home sweet home.. since 1984.. and I should be able to participate more as the work season slows down.. although white truffles and the oil harvest are still bringing in the tourists.

I am the soup queen.. there are several on my site so stop by!

Minestrone, Ribollita, Pappa al Pomodoro and Fabio Picchi's yellow bell pepper soup which is a favorite and a base to make several others he does such as pumpkin!

Tuscan white beans served with their broth on toasted bread rubbed with garlic is called Zuppa Lombarda and fills your belly and your soul!

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This thread reminds me of one of the best soups I've ever had. It was in Piedmonte abouut 15 years age. I can't remember how to spell it but to sound it out I would say tofaia(in a beautiful Italian accent of course). It was prepared in an earthen ware crock in the oven over a long cooking time, but what really got me was the chunks of parm. rind that had stewed in the pot till they were very soft, but still al dente. This may all seem very vague but would anyone happen to know this soup? If so any recipes?

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I thought it might be handy to link some of zuppe, brodette, etc. that have been documented on this regional forum thus far, especially during the year-long regional cooking threads of 2005 and 2006.

It might be useful to browse should someone wish to make an Italian soup after pondering options.

...

Here is the link to Kevin72's year of cooking through Italy: click

Is there an index somewhere for the monthly group cooking threads through the regions of Italy? If not, it would be nice to have that as a pinned thread in the Italy Forum. Maybe we could have an index thread that gives links for compilations or posts for indexes.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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This thread reminds me of one of the best soups I've ever had. It was in Piedmonte abouut 15 years age. I can't remember how to spell it but to sound it out I would say tofaia(in a beautiful Italian accent of course). It was prepared in an earthen ware crock in the oven over a long cooking time, but what really got me was the chunks of parm. rind that had stewed in the pot till they were very soft, but still al dente. This may all seem very vague but would anyone happen to know this soup? If so any recipes?

I haven't tried the recipe, but I found it in "la cucina piemontese" di Alessandro Molinari Pradelli

Tofeja

It says that in the past the soup was cooked in the oven right after baking the bread and left in the oven until it was tepid or cold.

It was used a special pot in terra rossa from Castellamonte with 4 handles.

200 g of of white dry beans

6 squares of pig skin

6 pork ribs

2 pork feet

an ear

a tail

nutmeg

2 minced garlic cloves

minced rosmery

a sachet with sage, bay leaf, majoran and thyme

salt and pepper

Soak the beans overnight. Make a pesto with garlic, rosmery, pepper and nutmeg and spread on the pig skin squares, roll and tie with string. Add all the ingredients in the pot, cover with cold water, cover and cook for many hours. Adjust seasoning at the end. Serve in terracotta bowls dividing equally the beans and the meat.

Optional: adding celery and carrots, as well as the pig snout.

As for the crusts of parmigiano, it is very common. We always add them to minestrone. Before adding to the soup scape the outside off with a knife and rinse.

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That sounds like such a good recipe Franci! There is a restaurant a little north of Bologna, that serves a 'parmigiana soup'. I thought I could recreate it using the cheese and a chicken stock base, but now I'm wondering about using the cheese rinds. Do you eat the rind? Is it chopped/minced? I'm having trouble visualizing this. Note: I have no problem with the pig snout, but the cheese rinds have stumped a little! :laugh:

Here is yesterday's soup:

gallery_14010_2363_33361.jpg

Chestnut Sage Soup

This soup was invented yesterday when I went into the kitchen, looked around and wondered what the heck I was going to make for lunch. We experimented with bits of fresh pear as a garnish, and also a bit of white truffle paste. The pear was very sweet so it made the chestnuts taste less savory, and the truffle paste masked the delicate chestnut flavor. It was a unanimous decision: the soups was delicious all on its own.

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