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Authentic Tuscan Acquacotta…

Posted in cucina, recipes, and Tuscan

acquacotta3photo.jpg Copyright, 2008, Maria Liberati

http://www.marialiberati.com/

Editor: Joseph McVeigh

Although mainly thought of for its famous pastas and sauces, Italian cookery is well-rounded including meals of all types for all times of the day. One such lesser known famous food from Italy is acquacotta, or “cooked water”. The amount of different recipes for the soup is innumerable, but the most famous style comes from the Maremma region in Tuscany. It is interesting to see how both the recipe and the soup have changed in the same way over the years.

The Maremma region lies on the western coast of Italy and consists of five areas. In the past, it was populated mostly by farmers, shepherds, and cattle breeders – all of whom contributed to the area’s distinct acquacotta recipe. Today, however, the area is a budding tourist destination because of its scenic landscapes, ancient villages, and, conversely, elite boating ports.

The history of acquacotta goes back a long way. It is a form of stone soup that was shared amongst the farmers and shepherds of the hilly, coastal region. Tradition has it that the eaters would each bring something to put in the soup. This quality makes acquacotta unique in that it is one of the few soups not made from stock, a fact that explains the soup’s name. Acquacotta is a homely, healthy soup that started among peasant farmers and is now offered in some very high class restaurants.

So, like the region its most famous version is from, acquacotta has evolved over the years, but has maintained its originality.

Acquacotta from Maremma

4 Tablespoons olive oil

4 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 pound spinach, torn into big pieces, with thick stems discarded

1 10 oz. can tomatoes, seeds squeezed out

6 cups water

8 eggs (two for thickening, six for poaching)

2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

6 thick slices of coarse, dense, grilled bread

Heat the oil in a casserole dish large enough to accommodate poaching the eggs later on. Sauté the celery, onion, over low heat until the onion is clear. Stir in the spinach until it wilts.

Stir in the tomatoes and let them cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour in six cups of water and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and let simmer for about an hour.

When ready to serve, beat two eggs and the Parmesan cheese together, then stir into the soup. Return soup to a boil over medium heat.

Break each of the remaining six eggs into the soup on spots where the soup is bubbling. Simmer gently for 3 minutes or until eggs are poached.

Serve each egg on a piece of the grilled bread with soup ladled on top.

 When ready to serve, beat two eggs and the Parmesan cheese together, then stir into the soup. Return soup to a boil over medium heat.

Break each of the remaining six eggs into the soup on spots where the soup is bubbling. Simmer gently for 3 minutes or until eggs are poached.

Serve each egg on a piece of the grilled bread with soup ladled on top.
For more great recipes, get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at http://www.marialiberati.com… as seen in  in many national magazines including Healthy Cooking and Tastes of Italia.

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