Thursday, April 2, 2020


After a almost a month on Coronavirus lockdown in Florence, Italy, I have found that the meditative aspect of cooking has given me much needed peace of mind. In the kitchen I keep repeating my mantra, 'andra tutti bene', everything will be alright. So, I've cooked something different just about everyday for this past month. Several of you asked for this particular recipe; this hearty soup is definitely worth trying.

I was introduced to this soup by my friend, M, (I have omitted her name according to her wishes), who grew up on a farm in Maremma. Her mother often prepared this dish for the family of 5, and although the ingredients were plentiful on this farm, this is historically a shepherd or coalminer’s meal, prepared out in the open with the few ingredients needed, always including the hardened bread ready to be thrown into a soup with plenty of water as the name implies: cooked water. 

This rustic dish came to be enhanced with the arrival of tomatoes from the Americas and it became quite another thing.

Acquacotta for 4- 5

Notes: 1.) You absolutely don’t have to use vegetable broth if you don’t have it. Just substitute water if you want to take this shortcut. But if you want to make the broth, boil 2 carrots, 2 sticks celery, and one onion in about 8 cups of water for about 1 hour. Or use commercial vegetable broth.

2.) You don't have to skin the tomatoes but it makes for a prettier dish with velvety looking tomatoes in the acquacotta. To skin the tomatoes, cut an X at the bottom, drop them for about 1 minutes in boiling water, take them out and place them in a bowl of ice water, then take them out and remove the peel.


700 g (1.5 lbs) yellow onions
200 g (2 sticks) celery with leaves
800 g (1.7 lbs) peeled chopped tomatoes
120 g (about 1.5 cup) extra virgin olive oil
200 g (.75 cups) water
500 g (2 cups) vegetable broth 
4 eggs

For serving in the plate
Sliced hardened bread that you’ve brushed with extra-virgin olive oil and toasted slowly in the oven
Parmigiano Reggiano for grating on top

1. Peel the onion, cut in half lengthwise, then slice thinly and set aside.

2. Wash the celery and slice thinly, including the leaves.

3. Heat oil in heavy bottomed skillet and add the chopped onion and celery. Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes, then add the .75 cup water. 

4. Cook this on low heat, stirring until the water has evaporated.

5. Add the chopped tomatoes, stir and cook for about 10 minutes, then add the vegetable broth (or water). Cook for about 40 minutes.

6. Cover the skillet to finish cooking it and taste for salt. Stir every so often.

7. It is ready when you see the oil beginning to float to the top. Add the leaves of basil. At this point, drop 4 eggs that you have cracked separately into a small bowl and dropped separately into the acquacotta. Drop each egg gently and close to the surface of the soup. Cover the skillet again to cook the eggs for about 3 minutes.

8. Place the hard toasted bread on the plate and carefully spoon one egg in each plate along with the tomatoey soap. Grate some Parmigiana Reggiani on top.

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