This hearty soup is true Italian peasant food, born out of poverty – the name literally means ‘cooked water’ – and even if we didn’t live in increasingly frugal times it is a dish worth making for the sheer pleasure of it. It is utterly delicious in its simplicity, and a satisfying cheap all-in-one meal, as stale bread bulks out the fresh vegetables and broth. Finely grating the celery and carrot allows them to almost dissolve into the stock, leaving the onions and mushrooms to provide the texture. Don’t tell the Tuscan grandmothers, but I like to use a Scotch Bonnet chilli, rather than a standard long red chilli, as the fruity flavour it imparts adds another fabulous dimension to the soup.
1 celery stalk, finely grated
1 carrot, peeled & finely grated
1 white onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 fresh red chilli, finely diced
4 tbsp olive oil
300g button or chestnut mushrooms, sliced
200g fresh tomatoes
1.5 litres vegetable stock
A few slices of stale or lightly toasted bread (sourdough is ideal but anything other than sliced white will do), torn into chunks
Chopped fresh parsley, to serve
Skin your tomatoes by immersing in boiling water for 30 seconds then refreshing in cold water – the skins should slip off easily if the tomatoes are ripe. In a large saucepan fry the celery, carrot, onion, garlic & chilli in the olive oil for 5 minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook gently for a few more minutes. Dice the tomatoes and add to the pan, then add the stock and season well with salt & pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes. Divide the bread between bowls and pour the hot soup over. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the fresh parsley.
This dish is not only delicious and frugal, it’s healthy, and – uncharacteristically for me – vegan, so I’m entering it into ‘Family Friendly Fridays’ hosted by Clare over at The Vegetarian Experience on behalf of Ren of Fabulicious Food