A List of Italian Soups

From Acquacotta to Zuppa Toscana

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Sweet, sour, pungent and piquant, Italian soups cover all the taste sensations. They also share a common foundation: battuto, or two parts chopped onions to one part each chopped celery, carrots, parsley and garlic. In Italian cuisine, you start nearly every soup by slowly cooking a generous handful or two of battuto in olive oil and a heavy-bottomed pot. Serve Italian soups with a thick slice of crusty, peasant-style bread.

Acquacotta

Things You'll Need

  • Eggs
  • Croutons
  • Battuto
  • Olive oil
  • Pesto
  • Canned chopped tomatoes
  • Stock
  • Swiss chard or spinach
  • Peperoncina
  • Parmesan

Acquacotta, or "cooked water," epitomizes the less-is-more approach to Italian cooking. Poach one egg for each serving and set aside; place a handful of croutons in each soup bowl. Saute battuto until fragrant, then add about 1/2 cup each pesto and chopped tomatoes per serving; saute until the pesto is nearly dry. Next, add stock, about 2 cups per serving. Stir to combine and add a couple generous handfuls of chopped leafy greens, such as Swiss chard. Simmer until the greens cook through and season to taste. Pour the soup over the croutons and garnish each bowl with one poached egg, a peperoncina and freshly grated Parmesan.

Cannellini Bean

Things You'll Need

  • Pancetta
  • Leeks
  • Battuto
  • Vegetable or chicken stock
  • Fresh herbs, such as bay leaf and oregano
  • Canned cannellini beans
  • Canned stew tomatoes

A pleasant respite from cold winter days, cannellini bean soup's heartiness is matched only by its simplicity. Cook about 1/2 cup of roughly chopped pancetta in over low heat until most of the fat renders, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and saute sliced leeks and battuto until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add stock along with fresh herbs, such as a bay leaf and oregano, and stir in a couple cans of rinsed cannellini beans and stew tomatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes and season to taste before serving.

Ciopinno

Things You'll Need

  • Fennel
  • Battuto
  • Olive oil
  • Canned chopped tomatoes
  • Fish stock
  • Dry white wine
  • Fresh herbs, such as dill, oregano and bay leaf
  • Chili flakes
  • Fresh seafood, such as shrimp, crab and mussels
  • Lemon

Brought to San Francisco by Genoese fisherman in the 19th century, ciopinno has an Italian-American heritage and the heart of the sea in each bite. Saute sliced fennel and battuto in olive oil over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add a can of chopped tomatoes, equal parts fish stock and dry white wine -- about 4 or 5 cups total -- and freshly chopped herbs. Add a pinch of chili flakes and season to taste. Bring the soup to a simmer and add a mix of fresh seafood. Sliced fish fillets, clams, mussels, crab and shrimp all work here. Simmer until the seafood is cooked through and finish with a liberal squeeze of lemon juice.

Italian Wedding

Things You'll Need

  • Italian-style, beef-pork sausage
  • Battuto
  • Chicken stock
  • Small pasta, such as orzo or farfalle
  • Greens, such as endive, cabbage or kale
  • Fresh herbs, such as thyme and sage
  • Parmesan

Italian wedding soup may not have anything to do with nuptials, but you'll fall in love with its seamless marriage of ingredients and robust flavor. Roll fresh Italian beef-and-pork sausage into 1-inch meatballs and brown them in a heavy-bottomed pot; set the meatballs aside. Saute battuto in the fat from the sausage until softened and add a couple quarts of chicken stock. Season the stock to taste and add 1 or 2 cups of small pasta, such as orzo or farfalle. Add a generous handful of leafy greens -- endive, kale or chard all work -- along with freshly chopped herbs and the meatballs. Simmer until the pasta is al dente and finish with grated Parmesan on top.

Minestrone

Things You'll Need

  • Battuto
  • Olive oil
  • Snap beans, such as Italian flat or haricot vert
  • Canned crushed tomatoes
  • Vegetables, such as romanesco broccoli and diced parsnips
  • Stock
  • Pasta, such as orzo or farfalle
  • Fresh herbs, such as basil and rosemary
  • Parmesan

When most folks think of Italian soups, minestrone comes to mind. And for good reason; it's filling, packed with veggies and easy to make. But the best part of minestrone is versatility; it's one of the least rigid soups when it come to ingredient choices. Saute battuto until fragrant and soft and add a handful of freshly chopped snap beans; Italian flat, haricot vert and regular green beans all work. Saute the beans until slightly browned and add crushed tomatoes and the diced vegetables of your choice. Pour in 1 or 2 quarts of stock and a handful of pasta, such as orzo, conchiglie or farfalle -- any shape small enough to fit on a spoon when eating. Simmer until the pasta reaches al dente, season to taste and finish with fresh herbs and grated Parmesan.

Stracciatella alla Romana

Things You'll Need

  • Eggs
  • Parmesan
  • Fresh herbs, such as parsley and basil
  • Shredded tender greens, such as spinach and arugula
  • Beef or chicken broth

"Stracciatella" roughly translates as rags or shredded and indicates a dish contains shreds of one or more ingredient. Also known as Roman egg drop soup, stracciatella alla romana contains eggs, Parmesan and greens in a broth base. Beat eggs, grated Parmesan, chopped herbs, such as basil and parsley, and shredded tender greens, such as spinach, along with a pinch of salt and enough broth to make the mixture pourable. Bring a couple quarts of broth or stock to a boil and pour the egg mixture in while whisking vigorously. Let the egg mixture cook for about 2 to 3 minutes and season to taste.

Zuppa alla Toscana

Things You'll Need

  • Pancetta
  • Battuto
  • Canned stew tomatoes
  • Farro
  • Canned white beans, such as borlotti
  • Chicken stock
  • Greens, such as turnip
  • Pecorino

Zuppa alla Toscana represents an array of soups prepared in the style of Tuscany, which include ingredients common to the region, such as farro, pecorino and pancetta. Saute a couple handfuls of 1/4-inch cubes of pancetta over low heat until most of the fat renders, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4- to 1/2-inch-diced battuto and cook until slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Add a can of stew tomatoes, a handful of farro and a cup or 2 of cooked white beans, such as borlotti; pour in enough stock to cover the ingredients by 2 to 3 inches and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the farro reaches al dente and add a mix of greens, such as turnip, and season to taste. Serve when the greens cook through and garnish with freshly grated pecorino.

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