Acquacotta

Viterbo, Lazio

This is THE classic soup of the Tuscia.  The soup that used to be eaten by, shepherds, peasants and the Butteri (the cowboys of the Maremma).  It is still very popular.

The main difference between this soup and other soups is that the vegetables are simply cooked in water or stock.  In Tuscany rebollita and also other soups of Lazio have as a base a soffritto (vegetables cooked in the fat of or with pancetta, prosciutto, guanciale or lardo or in olive oil.

Acquacotta always has good quality olive oil drizzled over the top before serving.

The other basic ingredient is the dry unsalted bread of the area.  This was also available to the Butteri or fishermen as bread used to be made once a week and then used ‘dried’ as a base to the soup. Unsalted bread, common in Toscana and Lazio becomes hard very quickly but rarely goes moldy, making it ideal to use in this type of soup.

The most traditional recipe has as its base wild chicory but many other vegetables can be used.  In reality whatever is available is used.

1 kg  (2 lbs) wild chicory cleaned and pre cooked for a few minutes to remove any bitter taste.

4 large potatoes peeled and cut in half

Slices of stale bread

4 cloves Garlic

Chilli

Good quality olive oil

2 onions finely chopped

Salt

2-3 stems of mentuccia (wild mint – a herb used only in Lazio) A sprig of any mint will be fine.

500 g (1 lb. 4 oz.tomatoes), chopped

Optional 1 poached egg per person

  1. In a large pan with a pint of salted water or vegetable stock cook the potatoes, garlic, sliced onions, the mentuccia, chilli and tomatoes for about 30 minutes.  Half way through cooking add the blanched chicory.
  2. For each person cook an egg in some of the stock taken from the soup.  Or just break the eggs into the soup and they will poach in the soup.
  3. For each plate: lay a slice of stale bread in the bottom of the dish.  Pour over just enough liquid from the soup over the bread so that the bread absorbs all the liquid.  Place the poached egg on top of the bread then pour over the vegetables.
  4. Top everything with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Before the end of the cooking time you can add some pieces of Parmigiano so that they soften in the soup and melt in the mouth.  The hard outside rind of the cheese can also be used (delicious) cutting off any print and giving it a good scrub.

3 responses to “Acquacotta

  1. Pingback: Winter greens in abundance « Buona Forchetta

  2. Pingback: Don’t some recipes just sound nasssty? « An epi-curious look @ life, with Joan Spiller

    • Hi Joan. Acquacotta is the traditional soup that was made by shepherds in Lazio and Tuscany, the name actually means cooked water; actually it is very tasty and very simple to make. You can make it even more interesting by adding baccalà. Follow the recipe links in the blog to primi and you’ll find the traditional recipe.

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