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Light and Clear Soups

Though wedding soup is perhaps the clear soup I get the most requests for it's certainly not alone: there's everything from stracciatella, the Roman equivalent of egg drop soup, to tortellini in broth, without which festive winter meals wouldn't be quite the same in northern Italy.

On Making Broth
Broth is one of the great inventions of all time. It serves as in ingredient in all sorts of things, from stew to risotto, and in its own right a bowl of broth is the perfect supper after a filling midday meal. A good bowl of broth will warm you in the winter, refresh you in the summer, and is perfect year round if you’re on a diet.

Noodle Soup with Chicken Livers, Minestra di Tagliolini e Fega
Chicken noodle soup is a truly universal recipe, with almost every country having at least one, if not many variations on the theme. In Lombardia the custom is to add finely chopped chicken livers to the soup, and they add a pleasing nuttiness that is very nice. And will have even haters of liver smacking their lips and asking for seconds. I know.

Simple Italian Bread Soup Recipe - Zuppa di Pan Cotto
Zuppa di pan cotto is an extremely simple Italian bread soup, true peasant food that was a perfect way to use up leftover bread much too precious to be thrown away or given to the livestock. And now, a very easy, quite healthy recipe

Cabbage and Bean Soup Recipe - Inverzà - Cabbage and Bean Soup Recipe
Italy has a great many bean soups, most of which are rather creamy in texture. Minestra di Fagioli, or pasta fazool comes to mind. This bean and cabbage soup from the Veneto is instead liquid, and gains added body from slices of toasted bread. In short, simple, frugal winter fare of the kind once enjoyed by those who couldn't afford meat. No less good for that, and now a fine option for those who are cutting back on meat consumption.

Piemontese Pigskin and Cabbage Soup Recipe - Minestra Di Verza e Cotenne
This is a frankly frugal Piemontese recipe, of the sort that even a poor family would have been able to afford in the past. We're better off now, but pig skins still do have a rather libidinous satiny texture that makes for a fine soup.

Boiled dinner is quite popular in Northern Italy during the winter months. The meats are cheap, and the cooking process nicely warms the kitchen. And you get to start your meal with a steaming bowl of soup. In Emilia Romagna the poor would combine bread crumbs and eggs to make passatelli. In Lombardia they do something similar, but use flour rather than breadcrumbs: Sbrofadej.

Giuseppina Acri's Wedding Soup
Tom Lucente has very kindly shared his mother Giuseppina Acri's wedding soup recipe: it's quite simple, and very traditional, with chicken or turkey meatballs, and escarole.

Lung Soup - Zuppa di Polmone
We forget, now that we live with plenty, how precious food really is, and how nothing should go to waste. If you visit a traditional market in Italy you will find all sorts of things the supermarket doesn't carry, including veal lung. Among other things, you can use veal lung to make lung soup.

Chicken Soup, or Supa de Polastrelo
Chicken Soup, or Supa de Polastrelo: Soups have always played a major role in the diet of the Veneto, in part because of the climate, which is conducive to hot soups, and in part because soups, as a group, tend to be economical. This particular soup is a little richer than most, due to its being made with a chicken, and would therefore have been for a special occasion in the past.

Rice and Cualiflower -- Riso e Cavolfiore
Rice and Cualiflower, or Riso e Cavolfiore:

Milanese Onion Soup -- Supa de Scigol
There are those who use onions with diffident parsimoniousness, writes Adriano De Carlo in his Cazzoeùla, busècca, òss bùs... e altre 97 ricette lombarde, while the majority use them as an accessory, a necessary evil whose aromas and flavors are somehow noxious. However, the onion, a grassy member of the Lilly family whose bulb is edible, is a gift of the Gods, in part because of its therapeutic qualities.

Canavesana-Style and Onion Soup -- Zuppa alla Canavesana o di Cipolle
Canavesana-Style and Onion Soup: People generally associate (even in Italy) onion soup with the French, but this doesn't mean that it's not made in Italy. Indeed, they've been making it for quite some time in Piemonte, where it's considered a variation on Zuppa alla Canavesana, a cabbage soup. Or at least that's how Giovanni Vialardi, head chef of the House of Savoy in the mid-1800s, describes it in A Tavola con il Re (Dining with the King), published in 1854.

A Lenten Day Onion Soup -- Zuppa Magra di Cipolle
This recipe is drawn from a volume entitled Il Cuoco Piemontese, which was published in 1766, and was one of the first books written in Italian to present French recipes. Given the renown of onion soup in France and its comparative rareness in Italy, this may be of French origin.

Soup with Midolline and Radicchio Rosso -- Zuppa di Midolline al Radicchio Rosso
Soup with Midolline and Radicchio Rosso, or Zuppa di Midolline al Radicchio Rosso: Midolline are pasta bits shaped like melon seeds, and are quite nice in clear soups, in this case one made with radicchio and potatoes.

Pasta Stars in an Asparagus and Mint Soup
Pasta Stars in an Asparagus and Mint Soup, or Stelline in una Zuppa di Asparagi e Menta: A refreshing spring soup that gains body from telline, tuny pasta stars that work very well in clear soups.

Spring Awakening
Spring Awakening: One could call this soup Minestra Primavera, and wouldn't be far off, because it has all sorts of springtime vegetables. But spring awakening sounds more poetic, and it is a nice soup.

Farfalline in Tomato and Robiola Soup
Farfalline in Tomato and Robiola Soup, or Farfalline in Zuppa con Pomodori e Robiola: Robiola is a soft, mild creamy cheese that has a slightly tart flavor, and is commonly used for spreading. It also melts well, however, and works nicely in this recipe, off the back of a pasta box. To serve 4 you'll need:

Chris's Wedding Soup
Hi, Kyle. Thought I'd contribute this wedding soup recipe. This is the one I grew up with, so it's of course the only one I can eat! I don't know if you need this at all, but I felt compelled to send it in. Best, Chris Castellani

Passatelli in Broth -- Passatelli in Brodo
Passatelli are a classic Romagnan specialty, made with a cup-and-plunger-like device that forces dough through a plate with 1/4-inch diameter holes in it, thus forming strings that are called passatelli. In presenting them a century ago, Artusi suggested that those without a passatelli iron might make do with a pastry bag. Alessandro Molinari Pradelli instead suggests using a potato ricer with the large-holed disk. The beef morrow serves to give the passatelli a softer consistency.

Garlic Soup
Garlic Soup: Goldie recently wrote asking for Garlic Soup. To be honest, though there are parts of Italy that enjoy a reputation for extensive garlic use, I've never encountered it in a soup. I do happen to have a booklet entitled L'Aglio che Guarisce, Garlic that Cures, by Carlo Ducroix, who says the Noble Bulb is good for everything from fevers (a tossed salad dressed with abundant finely sliced garlic, salt, and a little lemon juice -- good also for persistent coughs) to baldness...

Roman Easter Soup -- Brodetto Pasquale
Brodetto Pasquale is the classic beginning to a Roman Easter dinner.

This is a Passover Soup Mira Sacerdoti got Nella Levi Carmi. It's quite simple, but looks tasty -- and brings Rome's Stracciatella to mind -- and would be good at any time of year.

Passover Pasta Soup -- Minestra di Sfoglietti per Pesach
Minestra di Sfoglietti per Pesach: Making pasta for Passover requires an additional step to eliminate the risk of the dough's leavening once the pasta sheet has been rolled out: it's baked just enough to dry it out but not enough to brown it. Edda Servi Machlin notes that the process changes the texture of the pasta, and provides for a "delightful gourmet experience."

Passover Chicken Soup with Rice -- Minestra di Riso per Pesach
As Edda Servi Machlin notes, though the Ashkenazim consider rice chametz Italkim do not; this is thus the Italian equivalent of matza ball soup and is served at the Seder. It includes meatballs made from chicken breast and immature chicken eggs, which she suggests be substituted with hard-boiled eggs as they are hard to find.

Roman Egg Drop Soup -- Stracciatella
I've gotten a number of requests for Stracciatella of late. It's a Roman version of egg-drop soup with a little cheese, and is quite refreshing.

Meatless Canederli in Broth -- Canederli di Magro in Brodo
While good in broth these Canederli will also work well dry as a side dish, especially with a hearty stew (for example, goulash). If you're making them as a side dish you'll want to omit the broth and double the remaining ingredients. The basic recipe will serve 4.

Liver Canederli in Broth -- Canederli al Fegato in Brodo
Liver Canederli in Broth: Simple fare from the Dolomites this, bread balls to go into a clear soup. And surprisingly good too. There are a number of variations on the concept; these, which also include liver, are more pronounced in flavor than some other forms. However, they are good, even if you're not a liver fan. The recipe will serve 4.

Canederli with Speck -- Canederli allo Speck
Canederli allo Speck: Simple fare from the Dolomites this, bread balls to go into a clear soup. And surprisingly good too. Speck is a similar to prosciutto but smoked. If you cannot find it a mildly sugared Virginia cured ham might work well as a substitute. This recipe will serve 4.

Fregula in Broth -- Fregula in Brodo
This is perhaps the simplest way of preparing fregula, which is one of Sardinia's signature pasta shapes.

Acquacotta -- Cooked Water
Acquacotta literally means cooked water. The dish is generally served as a one course meal, and in the past was eaten in the field by shepherds and stockmen. As is the case with any regional dish, there are as many versions as there are cooks.

Gnocchi in Broth -- Gnocchi in Brodo
Gnocchi are generally served drained, with a sauce of one sort or another. However, they can also work quite nicely in soups, especially if they have added to them some chicken or capon breast.

Italian Wedding Soup: Minestra Maritata
Two versions of a great Neapolitan dish that has nothing to do with weddings. Both include shredded meat, among other things.

Noodles in Broth: Tagliolini o Ricciolini in Brodo
Noodles in broth, classic and simple. These are instructions for making Ricciolini, A Jewish variety traditionally made at home for Yom Kippur.

Tortellini in Borth: Tortellini in Brodo
The Classic Emilian soup, Tortellini in broth -- perfect for all occasions.

Vegetable Broth: Brodo Magro di Digiuno
Vegetable broth for Lent or Friday -- and tasty at any time of year.

Assuntina's Acquacotta
A tasty, rather different variation on Acquacotta from Lazio.

Vegetable Acquacotta: Acquacotta di Verdure
Acquacotta means cooked water, and in this case it's not far off. A very simple dish from the Marche that gains its flavor from a deft use of greens and herbs.

Cardoon Soup: Minestra di Cardi in Compagnia
A cardoon-based soup from the Marche that's rather similar to minestra maritata (weding soup).

Easter Soup: Minestra di Pasqua
A hearty Neapolitan Easter soup.

Fava Bean and Chard Soup: Fave e Aiete
A fava bean and chard soup from Basilicata, the instep of the boot.

A traditional fennel-based Christmase Eve first course from Puglia, which is delightful all winter.

Garlic Soup: Aigo Bouido
A very simple garlic soup, that's also quick to make.

Giuseppe Verdi Soup: La Squisita Minestra di Giuseppe Verdi
The Maestro's favorite!

Lenten Cabbage Soup: Broeta de Verza de Magro
A Dalmatian meatless cabbage soup that was prepared for all the days of Vigil when meat was to be avoided, and especially Christmas Eve, when the chill of the Bora (a strong wind from the east) gives the cabbage added bite. You will need the broth from boiling a fish.

Meatballs in Broth: Baduzzi a Broru
A tasty Sicilian meatball soup, together with a couple of other unusual meatball recipes.

Pork Soup with Pasta: Brodo di Porco con Zitone
Pork soup with greens and pasta is a hearty one-course meal reminiscent of wedding soup.

As Pellegrino Artusi points out in his Art of Eating Well, the word brodetto means different things in different parts of the Peninsula -- an egg-based soup in Florence, and a fish stew on the Adriatic. Rosemary Torigian's recipe for the latter, and memories of nights in Ancona. In English.

Chicken and Fennel Soup
From the Colonial House Inn & Hotel of Weston, Vermont, of all places. Not Italian but looks nice.

Fennel Soup Recipe - Fenecchìjdde
Fennel Soup, or Fenecch jdde: This is a very simple thick winter soup from Puglia; it's a traditional Christmas Eve soup but is quite nice...

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