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Italian Soups


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I'm not Franci, but I followed the same advice from Richard Olney's book, Lulu's Provencal Table where the mixture's called a blanc.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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You're a grown-up, now.  Do as you want!  Pappa is generally made with fresh tomatoes. 

i once spent a week on a wine trail of tuscany eating lunch with about a zillion wine-makers....it was winter, lovely and damp and the air was woodsy smelling.....the funny thing was that during this time of year i was served pappa pommodoro about 5 times! they all said: "go ahead, use the tinned tomatoes, they turn out fine! and we always have them on hand!"

i have to say they do turn out well in the soup........ i usually use a combination of both tinned and fresh, the balance being which season it actually is. and i always keep good rustic bread, stale, in my freezer, in case the spirit moves me to make pappa pommodoro.........

olive oil is what it was all about at these vineyards as they all grow olives too, and the pappa was a beautiful foil for the individual oils.........good with the wine too!

Marlena the spieler


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Very nice blog, Franci! Why do you suppose the recipe you were given says to blanch in lemon juice and flour? Lemon juice, I understand, but why flour? Odd, don't you think?

hi judith!

echoing pontormo's reply about the mixture being called a blanc. i use it for artichokes. the lemon keeps it from darkening and blackening, but in the process sort of turns the artichoke a little grey-green but the addition of flour keeps it quite white........


Marlena the spieler


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Very nice blog, Franci! Why do you suppose the recipe you were given says to blanch in lemon juice and flour? Lemon juice, I understand, but why flour? Odd, don't you think?

Thanks Judith!

The person who gave me the recipe omitted this passage...I took the liberty myself.

I am still a girl from the French Culinary Institute and comes natural to me using this method, as Pomtorno correctly said, it is called cooking a blanc or cuisson dans un blanc.

Edited by Franci (log)
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Well, who knew? Thanks god...the day was nearly over and I hadn't learned anything new!! :laugh::laugh:

Grazie mille, ragazzi!

p.s. I burned a whole pot of zolfino beans this afternoon, and now I'm too depressed to go downstairs and make dinner. ....just needed to share my woes with people who would understand... :shock::sad::sad: Husband is unsympathetic....he's whining something about being hungry....

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We're good.

Where do you get caul fat States-side?

Usually you can talk a really nice butcher into ordering it for you, or if you're near a Chinatown, you can usually find it in a meat store. Sometimes in sausage supply stores, too. HTH!

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Just posted also in the Dinner! thread.

This is a soup that almost anybody cooks anymore but I was in the mood for it. My grandmother, from Bergamo, used to cook capelli d'angelo in milk. Now Italians seems to despise pasta in this format, maybe it's considered out of fashion. My mother still breaks left over polenta in cold milk for breakfast :biggrin: .

The look might not seem appealing but I like it


The yellow that you see it a little bit of butter added to the dish before pouring the soup. Let rest until a skin forms. No cheese.

Edited by Franci (log)
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Being on slow dial-up, forgive me for just linking to my site, but it is where I gather my info!

I adore Pappa al Pomodoro and when I don't have time tto make the minestrone to make Ribolitta, it gives me the same sould warming feeling!

Trattoria Mario's Ribollita is another favorite, more of a bean based soup.

My mother- in- laws version is more of the classic Minestrone.

And when I am feeling a smoother.. I make Fabio Picchi's Yellow bell pepper soup

But now it is still so sunny soup isn't in my menu!

The temp has just started to drop, new oil is out..and all is well!

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PS thoughts on canned tomatoes.

In Italy they are prepared when tomatoes are at their peak and are fabulous!

I like the peeled San Marzano with a basil leave and nothing else.

Don't know what is available outside Italy, but do know to watch out!

Many cans say:

Italian style

San Marzano ( but not from Italy)

when the tomatoes are picked ripe, they fall apart when even lightly touched with a fork and are full or flavor and cook quickly for a 5 minute fresh sauce with garlic olive oil and chili, for soups or stews.

I HATE when I find the hard ends of unripe tomatoes in the cans in the states!

they are also acidic....

My mantra is spend more time shopping and less time cooking.. often this also means more money on an ingredient.

I think in Italy ( which is where I live) food is the highest priority, before designer bags, jewelery, watches, clothes etc.

They are what they eat! and where they shop.

so the canned tomatoes for pappa al pomodoro are fabulous!

I am also getting some of the smaller tomatoes now from Vesuvius.. but they have a higher ratio of skin to tomato that I don't like.

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Very nice blog, Franci! Why do you suppose the recipe you were given says to blanch in lemon juice and flour? Lemon juice, I understand, but why flour? Odd, don't you think?

Because that's supposed to keep the cardoons a nice white color, instead of turning yellow/gray.

In vino veritas

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Here's a link to an announcement over my local regional forum concerning a chef demo at the farmer's market where I volunteer.

For those of you eager to acquire more cookbooks devoted to Italian regional cooking, here is the link to the relevant cookbook by Fabio Trabocchi who is from Le Marche.

His Zuppa di Castagne was glorious. While Judith may be in the best position to find out how extraordinary it is, I figure anything with cognac, mushrooms, cream and this much butter would make frozen, peeled chestnuts taste pretty good. In fact, the chef relied on vacuum-packed, peeled chestnuts. I am paraphrasing the instructions from the hand-out we distributed at the market. I assume it's in the cookbook, especially since it's one of the first Trabocchi says he created, inspired by the beginning of the season in Le Marche in October.

Serves 6

12 T (6 oz.) unsalted butter

2 oz. slice of pancetta, kept intact*

2/3 c chopped shallots

2/3 c peeled, chopped celery root

1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms

1 1/2 lbs. (weight after peeled) chestnuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 c cognac

5 c chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 sprig sage

Ditto, thyme

1/2 c light cream or half & half (he used latter)

1-Melt butter in large saucepan. Cook next three ingredients in list above (p, s & cr) for around 10 mins, until celery root softens. Remove from medium heat and set aside.

2-With rest of butter, saute mushes and chestnuts over med heat till latter are golden. Dump into saucepan you put aside. Return this to med heat for 5 mins. Season to taste with S & P.

3-Pour in cognac off heat. Carefully flame, but hold match just above surface of the liquid so nothing gets intense or dangerous. Just ignite the vapor. Let it evaporate, so flame goes out. Return pan to M heat and add stock. Tie herbs together with twine and dump them in. Bring to gentle simmer, stirring with wooden spoon occasionally. Circa 30 mins.

4-Remove the slice of pancetta from soup*. [Eat it, I say, or Shaya, give it to your sons. I'm sure this step is for the sake of texture.] Working in small batches, ladle contents into blender. Aim for a very smooth, uniform consistency. Return to pan, stir in cream. Season. Serve warm.

I swear this is paradisial. Great for an autumnal dinner party.

ETAdd thanks to Franci and her lynx-like eye; she caught an error that has been corrected. I'll add, too, that soup with mussels sounds really good.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Pontormo, I know that one of these days I am going to walk back home loaded with chestnuts :biggrin: , with all the chestnuts soups talking...

This is another soup from Puglia. It should be made with tubettini but I couldn't find in my local Waitrose...I guess british don't like minestrina :biggrin:

So instead of tubettini e cozze it was spaghetti spezzati e cozze


Edited by Franci (log)
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Pontormo, that chestnut soup sounds like sin in a bowl! I think chestnut soup might be a nice start to a Thanksgiving dinner....

Last night there was some sort of festa going on in Perugia, and the marroni were 3 kg for 5 euro. That's a lot of marroni.... I still have tons in my kitchen.

Parmigiana rind update: No photos, my camera was mis-behaving. There is a restaurant outside of Bologna, "Il Sole Antica Locanda del Trebbo" that features a parmigiana soup, and that's what I wanted to make. So, the chopped up rinds went into a strong chicken brodo, slow cooked for 4-5 hours, ran the soft rinds thru the blender and voila`, parmigiana soup! It is delicious, cheesey, and restorative tasting. You know how some soups just are comforting and make you feel better? Ok, now I'm a convert to parm rinds! Bonus: the whole house smelled like a grilled cheese sandwich...Marlena, you would have loved it! Thanks guys!! :biggrin::biggrin:

edit for p.s.: I served it garnished with a few drops of good quality balsmic vinegar. The real stuff.

Edited by hathor (log)
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Love the rinds!

we fight over them all time.

When we make our minestrone, that is where they rinds go!

cut into small spoonsize pieces.

they are also great grilled... talk about grilled cheese!

it has been to warm to think about soup yet..a little cold front started to come in and then changed it's mind!

I can't wait

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  • 2 months later...

Just to add some links from the regional cooking threads of 2005-2006 as intended some time ago:

Here's the first documented Jota from Friuli. Beans, cabbage, meat. Molto winteresco.

Along with paparot, a spinach and polenta soup that many participating in the thread tried.

An elaborate meal cooked from an Italian text included this zuppa di asparagi, described as the essence of asparagus, if rich.

Finally, a brodetto, one of Italy's many fish soups that go by the same name.

* * *

I've also checked through the thread on Puglia, searching for more soups where I was reminded of how much Franci taught us. There were some polpetti and greens swimming in a broth, but since the emphasis was not on a soup per se, I am not linking the post here.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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In the Tuscan thread, scroll down to Kevin's second post for a soup using pumpkin for Italian "zucca" or in modern times, a type of winter squash.

Here's another adaptation, a crema di carciofi, or artichoke soup based on a Florentine author's recipe for a light soup made with sweet peppers.

Cavalo nero, or Tuscan kale stars in a number of soups from this region, such as this simple kale and bread soup that forms the basis of ribollito, my favorite. :wub:

And since this octopus looks like it's swimming, if in a less than lively fashion, I guess it's soup.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Zuppa del Contadino (Peasant Soup)

‘Contadino’ means peasant farmer in Italian and so being poor farmers ourselves I was attracted to this recipe. It is really easy to make. Here in Piedmont the late summer months bring heaps of plum tomatoes to the weekly street markets. They give this soup a great colour and taste. ‘Ditalini’ is a particular pasta that is made especially for soup but it is also possible to use any of your favourite short hollow pasta. Don’t use a quick cooking variety because it will go soggy.


3 tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 large onion peeled and finely chopped

1 lb ripe but firm plum tomatoes

8 cups of chicken stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 oz Ditalini pasta or other short hollow pasta

¼ cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley

6 slices of rustic country style bread brushed with olive oil and grilled or oven toasted

Cooking Instructions

In a large pot heat up the olive oil over a medium heat.

Add the chopped garlic and onion and cook for a few minutes unto softened.

Stir in peeled chopped tomatoes and stock.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil and stir in the pasta.

Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until pasta is tender.

Put a slice of pre toasted bread in the bottom of each soup plate and ladle soup over the toast.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.


visit our vineyard in Italy - Vecchio Podere Santa Cristiana

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  • 11 months later...

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.

: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!

Today I'm having the traditional soup that is eaten in Piedmont on November 2 - the day of the Dead. People go to the cemetery to clean up the graves and adorn them with flowers, then go back home to a hearty soup of chickpeas, cannellini beans and pork ribs.

Like many other soups, it's better to cook it the day before, then let it "rest" and rewarm it just before serving it.

You must boil the chickpeas with a couple of garlic cloves and a small bunch of sage in slightly salted water until they're nice and tender. You do the same with the cannellini beans, but perfume them with a bay leaf. Separately you will boil the pork ribs in water with carrot, celery, a clove-studded onion, bay leaf and a few crushed peppercorns, until the meat practically falls off the bones.

Finally you gather everything into a large pot, add a whole clove-studded onion and simmer for one additional hour. You let the soup become lukewarm and serve it with toasted peasant bread, excellent olive oil and lots of black pepper.

Why am I having this soup on Nov. 1? Because I want to avoid the crush at the cemetery tomorrow morning, and I have enough for two (or three) days. :cool:

I thought I would add the chickpea soup I made the other day with lemon and lots of parsley. I posted it in the 2008 soup thread here

but thought I would also add it here to the Italian soup thread. It is a very simple but delicious soup.

I adapted the recipe from a book edited by Jeni Wright, "Italy's 500 Best Ever Recipes". (I added in carrot, celery and garlic to the mirepoix and also seasoned with some crushed red pepper.)

3/4 cup dry chickpeas

1 med onion

1 med carrot

1 stalk of celery

2 fat cloves of garlic

1 bunch fresh Italian parsley

2-3 Tbs olive oil

5 cups chicken stock

juice of 1/2 lemon or more to taste

salt and bl. pepper

crushed red pepper

lemon wedges

chopped parsley for garnish

Soak chickpeas overnight, then cook for 1 1/2 hrs in unsalted water until just tender. Drain and reserve.

Finely chop onion, carrot, celery, garlic and parsley. Saute the chopped vegetables in olive oil over low heat until they are softened a bit. Add chickpeas and cook for an additional 3-4 min then add chicken stock. Bring to a boil, season with salt and peppers and then simmer for about 30 min until chickpeas are tender. Roughly puree about half of the mixture and then add back to the pot.

Before serving, add lemon juice and again check the seasonings. I also garnished the soup with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh parsely just before serving.

*I let this soup sit for a day before we had it.

I'm now particularly inspired to try some of the other Italian chickpea soups that people have shared.

Edited by ludja (log)

"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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  • 1 year later...

Another chickpea bowl (loosely from Lorenza de Medici) is a soup of chickpeas in a light beef broth seasoned with pancetta and rosemary, half the chickpeas reserved then the rest pureed. Pappardelli are then cooked in the resulting broth. Subtle and satisfying. We added parmesan at serving, although it was not called for.

eGullet member #80.

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There's a Roman version I've done that has anchovies and chilies in the aromatic base and doesn't have the lemon at the end. It's like pasta e fagioli, only with chickpeas.

Here's Pasta e Ceci from the Williams-Sonoma Rome book, based on the ristorante Paris recipe.


Pasta e ceci


- 1 lb dried chickpeas

- 1 tablespoon baking soda

- salt and freshly ground pepper

- 6 cloves garlic, crushed

- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped

- 1 14 oz can plum tomatoes

- 2 boiling potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into narrow wedges

- 1 small dried red chile

- 1/2 lb tagliolini, broken into 2-inch pieces

- 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsely, minced


1. Pick over the chickpeas, discarding any grit or misshapen beans. Rinse well, place in a large bowl or pot, and add the baking soda, 1 tablespoon salt, and warm water to cover generously. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.

2. Drain the chickpeas and return them to the pot. Add cold water to cover generously, 2 teaspoons salt, and 2 of the garlic cloves and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low (making sure to maintain a gentle simmer) and cook, uncovered, until tender, at least 1–2 hours; the timing will depend on the age of the chickpeas. Remove from the heat and drain, reserving the cooking water; you should have at least 2 cups water.

3. While the chickpeas are cooking, in a small frying pan over medium heat, warm the ½ cup olive oil. Add the remaining 4 garlic cloves and the rosemary and fry until the garlic is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Pour the oil through a fine-mesh sieve held over a soup pot, and discard the garlic and rosemary. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the potatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the chile, and place over low heat. Cook slowly until the potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.

4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a bowl and mash with a fork. Return the potatoes to the pot over low heat, add the drained chickpeas and about 1 cup of the cooking water (or lightly salted tap water), and cook for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors. (the soup can be made up to this point, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

5. If the soup is very dense, add more of the chickpea cooking water or some lightly salted water to thin it to a good consistency. Then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.

6. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until very al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the soup. Cook, stirring to mix all the ingredients together, for 1–2 minutes longer.

7. Ladle the soup into a warmed tureen or shallow rimmed bowls, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve at once. Pass the pepper mill and olive oil at the table.


SOURCE: Williams-Sonoma, Rome


Maureen B. Fant


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