The classic peasant dish of La Maremma is acquacotta- which literally translates to “cooked water.” It is said that this soup goes back to the times of the charcoal makers – i carbonari – that worked during the cold winters. Every bit of food that was traded for charcoal went into a soup pot of boiling water, often just garlic, onion and some stale bread, while on a good day a few tomatoes, celery and fresh eggs were added. The best way to sample acquacotta is to eat it when you are tired and very hungry- something that can happen after a long beautiful walk with Italian Connection!
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 6 stalks of celery with leaves, finely chopped
- 4 TB extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded & chopped
- (Use canned drained tomatoes in a pinch)
- 1 handful of fresh chard or ½ sweet red pepper, chopped
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 4-8 pieces of day-old Tuscan bread
- 4 eggs
- Grated pecorino cheese
Finely chop 2 onions and 6 stalks of celery with the leaves, and cook over a low flame in a few tablespoons of good olive oil in a large pot. When soft and golden, add a pound of fresh tomatoes that have been peeled, seeded and chopped (use canned in a pinch or when you are exhausted), add a few leaves of chard or some red pepper roughly chopped, add salt and pepper, and leave to cook for 20 minutes. Add a liter of boiling water, salt & pepper, and let simmer. In the meantime, toast 4 large pieces of day-old Tuscan bread, and place them in the bottom of 4 individual soup bowls. When the soup starts to smell good or you begin to starve, break 4 eggs into the pot, being careful to keep the yolks intact. When the whites have set and the yolks are still a bit runny, carefully ladle into 4 soup bowls, doling out one egg per dish. Sprinkle with grated pecorino. Pair this with a bottle of Montecucco, the latest red DOC wine from Maremma’s highest hills, and you’ll soon be ready for another walk in La Maremma. Buon appetito!