There’s nothing better on a cold winter day than a warm bowl of soup. This week I’ll be making Pasta e Ceci (Pasta and Chickpea), a simple, flavorful soup that is one of our family’s favorite wintertime comfort foods.
A hearty Italian soup is not just a starter, it is a meal in-and-of itself with fresh, aromatic ingredients that leaves you feeling full and satisfied.
Here are a few fine Italian soups to prove that ordering the soup does not mean going without the true Italian-dining experience:
Most people have heard of Minestrone, but they probably do not realize that their canned soup is a far cry from what an Italian would call Minestrone. Try the real thing in Italy and you won’t be disappointed. In Italy, minestrone has character: there isn’t really a ‘recipe’ so much as an essence of flavor that depends on regional traditions and the freshest vegetables of the season.
Pappa al Pomodoro
Hearken to the old traveler’s advice: when you are in a new city, see where the locals are eating. It is often the best way to find good food while avoiding the perils of tourist-pricing. Pappa al pomodoro is a soup in the same spirit. Of peasant origin it has become a popular and delicious option throughout Tuscany. This hearty soup uses stale bread to thicken the soup. It is made by pouring broth over the bread and allowing it to soak while sauteing tomatoes with garlic, salt, and pepper. These simple ingredients combine to give a meal that will leave you feeling like a gourmand.
Minestra di Ceci
Another soup with variable composition, minestra di ceci, is considered winter soup perhaps because of the seasonality of its ingredients. The centerpiece of the soup is always chickpeas, and beyond that it can vary widely. Some options include salted cod, while others avoid meat entirely – leaving a perfect vegetarian dish. Often it is prepared with pasta, making it even more filling. Try it in its homeland: the Abruzzo region of Italy.
Wait, this article wasn’t supposed to be about desserts – so why are we discussing stracciatella? If your first thought was of the gelato flavor, you may be surprised to learn that there is also a fine soup called stracciatella. Stracci in Italian means ‘rags,’ and here referred to shreds of egg stirred into
broth to create a light and nutritious soup. This may sound a lot like popular chinese ‘egg-drop soup’ – and it is actually very similar. The Romans, however, might disagree. To them this recipe is distinctly their own.
These are just a few of the many Italian soup options one will encounter travelling in Italy. There are soups for every region and season, thus the best advice might be to try something you haven’t heard of – it will probably be a local specialty and no-doubt the most delicious option available.
Here’s a link to a favorite recipe for Pasta e Ceci that we have tried and enjoyed. I use 2 cans of chickpeas instead of dried.