Faccio la zuppa!!

Ottobre is upon us. Morning fog lies in the valley. Cool nights. Still mostly sunny days.

It is so funny how ready I am to make soups and stews as soon as the weather turns. Today, it being Wednesday, was market day in Umbertide. Many of the fall vegetables are now abundant. I had a left over chicken carcass from last night so decided to make stock. Since I was doing that I decided to get ingredients for soup. Borlotti beans are everywhere. In English they are cranberry beans I think. So pretty. Red and white inside and out. Sadly the cooked beans lose their color. But they taste great. Into the soup pot they will go.

I also wanted to showcase an ingredient unique to Umbria and central Italy. Cicerchie. Prononced Chee-cher-key-ay. They are only available dried and I always keep a stock of them in the pantry.

I thought they would go well with the beans. These legumes must be soaked for 24 hours and the soaking water discarded because it contains a neurotoxin. After soaking most of the toxin is removed, but they are not to be eaten often. Only as a special treat. We just have them occasionally. In the past, when peasants in this area had nothing else to eat they ate these everyday. They will grow anywhere and withstand all manner of weather. So oftentimes it was the only thing thing they had. Because of that people got a condition called Lathyrus.

Soaked on the left, dry on the right.

Once my cicerchie are soaked I will precook for about 30 minutes. Then they will go into the soup with the borlotti beans. First I’ll sauté the soffritto in olive oil. It’s the holy trinity of celery, onion and carrot. It is also called mirepoix in French. I think every country has their version. In the grocery store you can buy containers of these three ingredients in the produce section, all ready for soup, stew or pasta.

Into the pot will go garlic, a can of whole tomatoes chopped, parsley and some sliced cabbage (or any green leafy vegetable). Then the beans, cicerchie and the chicken stock. Cook for 45 minutes or so and then add in a handful of pasta and cook until done. Any shape will do. Salt, pepper, drizzle with good olive oil and sprinkle with Pecorino Romano cheese if you want.

Welcome to autumn!

10 thoughts on “Faccio la zuppa!!

  1. Ginni Vetri Reynolds

    It is difficult to think or autumn foods or Thanksgiving dinner when the temperatures are still in the 80’s in the fall. Even so, when I cook anything on the hottest days it usually includes the soffritto, and garlic, because for me it has become my holy trinity and foundation for a lot of the foods I enjoy cooking. Can’t find food like this in any microwave section of a grocery!

  2. Nancy Hampton Post author

    I love to do food as the seasons progress. It’s not cold here but it does feel fall-like because of the sun slanting across the mountains and fields. It is enough to make me change my gears from summer!

  3. Vicki B

    Like I said when we talked, I am ready for cooler temps and definitely ready for lots of soups! It is still very summer like here – 88 today! Usually it has started to cool off by now but summer is hanging in there for a while longer. Your soup looks DELICIOUS!

  4. royane mosley

    gosh looks so good I am going to try and make this if I can find the ingredients. Won’t be able to probably until we get back from our trip as it is pouring rain…days and days of it…no market for us. AND that beautiful blue bowl!!! Deruta?

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