Here is our selection of 5 popular and traditional Italian soups that will help you cope with cold
As strange as it may seem, winter has also come in Italy and yes, it is cold. What could be better than a hot soup on a chilly winter day? Luckily enough, this is a season full of invigorating recipes that will pamper your taste buds and your heart. Soups are usually served as a primo, but they can also be a piatto unico, particularly if they include meat, fish, or legumes. However, if you prefer a vegan dish, you should know that this time of the year brings with it many tasty vegetables that are perfect to prepare a variety of soups able to healthily satisfy your desire for comfort food. Cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, celery, Tuscan kale, Savoy cabbage are just some winter vegetables used in Italy to prepare both classic and more innovative dishes.
Are you ready for our tour around Italy in five soups?
Every Italian family, from North to South, has its own recipe, which can greatly vary depending on one’s tastes – and leftovers! Start with a basic soffritto, sautéing celery, carrots and onion, then add legumes, potatoes and vegetables, cooked over low heat with broth or water. Far from being “la solita minestra” (“the same old soup”), it will make a versatile base: you can add short pasta, rice or toasted bread; you can even blend it to obtain a creamy vegetable puree.
Here you will find a particularly original recipe that includes speck and Parmigiano, but you are free to experiment with your favourite ingredients.
Ribollita is a hearty vegetarian soup typical of Tuscan peasant cuisine, made with stale bread, Tuscan kale, Savoy cabbage, beans, potatoes. Traditionally, it was prepared on Fridays with the leftovers from the previous day and boiled several times over low heat; first, vegetables only, then, with unsalted Tuscan bread, hence the name ribollita, i.e. boiled twice. A rare example of a good “minestra riscaldata”!
You can read a recipe here
Cacciucco alla livornese
Cacciucco is perhaps the best-known specialty from Livorno in Tuscany. Apparently, its name comes from the Turkish küçük, “small”, and that’s what cacciucco is: a dense soup of small fish and shellfish, prepared with abundant garlic and chilli pepper, served with red wine. There is no precise recipe for cacciucco because it was traditionally made by fishermen using the fish they could not sell during the day, accompanying it with stale bread. Moreover, as its ingredients depended on the season, a cacciucco made in winter was quite different from one made in summer. Today, like in the past, the most important aspects about this soup are the freshness and variety of its ingredients.
If you are interested in the recipe of this soup, read this
Minestra, or zuppa, maritata is a very tasty and rich soup typical of the Neapolitan cuisine, usually prepared for Christmas and in winter in general. It owes its name, meaning “married soup”, to the fact that its several ingredients, meat and vegetables, are in perfect harmony, just like a couple. Like any regional recipe, it has a large number of variants. However, some ingredients are absolutely necessary for this wedding to take place: Savoy cabbage, chicory and escarole must marry pork rinds, feet, ribs and sausage. The more ingredients, the better.
Discover here the history and a traditional version of this dish
Zuppa di ceci
The last region we are visiting today is Calabria, with its zuppa di ceci. Like many dishes from this region, its main characteristic is the hot taste given by local chilli pepper. The classic recipe is made with lagane, a kind of egg-free homemade pasta resembling tagliatelle, which can be replaced with toasted bread.
Here you will find out how to make it at home
Eccole, five rich and hearty soups to keep you warm this winter, and contemplating your next culinary adventures in Italy. Buona cucina!