This wonderful soup from Tuscany caught my attention when I was watching a video on youtube by the very competent folks from America’s Test Kitchen. These people know what they are doing! Here is the link if you want to avoid my droning 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPMxxuzJJNw&t=3s
The soup, which is vegetarian and could probably be vegan, is a great example of Italian or Tuscan ingenuity when using products available to the citizens there.
First, one needs to make a sofrito: In my case (and I halved the recipe on America’s Test Kitchen) I used three short stalks about 4 inches long of celery, 1 medium onion and 2 cloves of garlic. I pulsed these vegetables in a food processor until they were very small and slowly fried them and 1/2 tsp chili flakes in some olive oil until they produced an aromatic fond on the bottom of the pot, about 10 minutes. I pulsed a can of tomatoes without their skins until they were also very small, but not smooth. This tomato puree was added to the pot next and stirred from time to time until reduced enough to show a line when going through the pot with a wooden spoon.
Next, I added a jar (450 ml) of chicken broth and some rind from a piece of Pecorino Romano. I understand the original recipe used water, and I’m sure it would also work 🙂 Right after the chicken broth was added, I cut fennel fronds from a bulb and set them aside. Then I diced the bulb in 1/2 inch pieces and added that to the pot for 10 minutes.
After that, I chopped parsley to make a quarter cup and added it to the fennel fronds. The last herb to be added was oregano. The video recommends fresh oregano, but I came up empty today and used some Mexican oregano I recently purchased. It worked very well.
After that, I added half a head of escarole (Endiviensalat in German). It is slightly bitter and is usually served as a salad in Germany, with a mustard based dressing as a favorite. I chopped this salad into 1 inch squares, washed it well and added it to the pot. Along with the escarole, I added the canellini beans (from a can), reserving the liquid and mixing an egg yolk with it, to thicken the soup later on. After another 10 minutes, the escarole was done and I added the egg mixture, turned off the heat and added the herbs.
To finish the dish, I toasted a piece of rye bread and placed it at the bottom of the soup plate. The original recipe uses stale bread and olive oil, but this was the best I could do.
Then, I ladled some soup over the bread and topped it with some grated Pecorino. Wow!
This soup was one of the best soups I have ever eaten, I couldn’t stop at one and ate another plate right after the first one. With the second plate, I remembered the video recommended some lemon juice and I added some. It made the dish even better.
This soup is easy to make, inexpensive and quick (40 minutes).
You will need:
- 1 stalk of celery, in half inch pieces
- 1 medium onion
- 2 garlic
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 1 fennel bulb
- some fennel fronds
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 can of tomatoes
- 1 can of chicken broth
- 1 escarole
- 1 can of canellini beans
- egg yolk/bean fluid
- 1 rind of Pecorino
- some grated Pecorino
- stale bread/olive oil