Last night for dinner at Antico Casale I started with Acquacotta, the traditional soup of rural Maremma region in Tuscany. It’s a tasty mix of foods such as toasted bread, onions, celery, parmesan cheese, white wine, olive oil,  and a few other ingredients, with an egg on top. It originated in the non-culinary hands of frugal Maremma workers, like coalmen who would scrape together any foods they could find, and poor farmers who’d mix together their harvest. They turned it into a mushy, stewy, zuppa, and now chefs all over the place have put their own spin on it.

This description, as originally told to me by resort owner Marta Pelligrini, made me reflect upon my own sad state of refrigerator back home in New York City. If memory serves me correct, I believe there is an onion in there that I’ve been meaning to use. I also have a half loaf of bread (although whole wheat) and a few eggs left from the last time I went food shopping, which doesn’t happen very often. And for some reason I tend to buy celery when I do go, because it’s healthy and I think I’ll end up dipping it in something, but I don’t have dip. So yes, I have celery too. Parmesan cheese? What a novel idea to put it ON TOP something! White wine, obviously. Olive oil, check. Salt… come on, what do you take me for? Toaster oven for the bread, by golly I’ve got that too! This wasn’t just the soup of the Maremma. This was the soup for New Yorkers who are terrible at food shopping.

Here is the recipe from Chef Claudio Bovicelli of Antico Casale di Scansano, the man who taught me how to make pasta from scratch. Even if I never master The Rolling Pin quite the way he hoped, there’s always Acquacotta.

ACQUACOTTA RECIPE:

Ingredients for 4 people
3 ribs of celery, 4 onions, 700 gr. of spinach, 4 eggs, extra virgin olive oil, half a tablespoon of tomato sauce, 4 tomatoes, 8 slices of toasted bread, half a glass of white wine, water, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese as much as you like.

How to prepare it
Brown an onion in a pan with extra virgin olive oil. When the onion is slightly pinkish, add celery, onions and wine. Let wine evaporate for a few minutes, then add tomato sauce, tomatoes and water. Let it cook for 20 minutes, then add beaten eggs and salt. Toast the slices of bread and place them into the plate. Pour the broth on them. Then sprinkle Parmesan cheese over it.

Today’s WIN ITALIA Question:

(To win luggage filled with souvenirs from Tuscany and Rome)

What’s your secret go-to recipe or concoction when nothing’s left in the fridge?

Spa-rrividerci!

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