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Zuppa di erbette degli olivi delle pastorelle garfagnine

  • A)
  • 400 grams of wild field herbs (radichella, cicerbita, salvastrella, burdock, watercress, valerianella, rampion, etc.)
  • 1 bunch of beet
  • 1 bunch of spinach
  • salt
  • B)
  • 2 fresh sausages of pork
  • 6-7 spoons of olive oil
  • C)
  • 2 big red onions, cut in pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium size leek
  • 1 spoon of granular stuff for mushrooms broth
  • a pinch of dried basil
  • a pinch of dried calamint
  • a pinch of dried mint
  • D)
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 grams of grated Parmesan cheese
  • black pepper
  • spices
  • table salt
  • 8 slices of stale roasted bread
  • olive oil
Clean and wash the herbs keeping them in water for at least 1 hour (rinsing them more times always changing the water). Wash also the beet and spinach separating the leaves from the ribs, cut both in pieces, gather them in two different bowls (leaves in one bowl and ribs in another bowl) always in fresh water. Take a pot, put 1 litre and ½ of water, salt more than the standard quantity. Let the water boil, put the herbs and the stalks of beet and spinach. Cook for 10 minutes, drain, separate vegetables and cooking water and keep them to use afterwards. In another pot peel the sausages at point B) and melt them in the oil, brown them for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat and turning them very often. In the meanwhile take a blender and put inside all what indicated at point C) together with ½ litre of the above mentioned vegetables broth, mix very well but do not disintegrate. Pour this mixture in the pot together with the sausages, increase the heat, turn ad mix and let the stuff boil, adjusting for a low boiling and let stew by this way for at least 10 minutes, turning very often and covering with a lid. At the right time blend also the beet and spinach leaves together with the remaining vegetables broth, pour it in the pot with the other stuff, turn and mix very well, increase the heat to re-start the boiling, then add also the herbs at point A), add some salt if necessary and adjust the heat for a very slow boiling, let cook for at least other 30 minutes, turning sometimes and covering with a lid. When the stuff will be ready, beat the two eggs and add the Parmesan cheese, an abundant pinch of grinded black pepper and a pinch of spices, always beating with a whisk; roast the bread and put it in 4 soup plates (two slices each plate), then bathe them with the beaten and spiced egg. Pour some liquid broth over each slice of bread in the soup plates in order to reconstitute them and afterwards pour the remaining broth with the herbs as to cover abundantly the bread. Serve very hot. Remind to season everything with new oil, spicy and aggressive as to have stronger and more harmonic tasty sensations.
Oil and herbs (which grow much better in a clean and manured soil and this is the case of the one at the base and around the olive trees – from here “erbette degli olivi”) are natural products of the same habitat, so that their features are similar and harmonic and they complete themselves also from a tasty point of view. This is a very old and simple soup and it belongs to the country culture of the Tuscany hills, especially of Chianti and Lucchesia, which have upheld and handed down this vegetable soup. When we talk about harmony we refer to certain balances in the relationships between specific ingredients for specific sensations. The natural harmony is a wide harmony, immeasurable, sometimes it could be violent (if related to a “certain civilised” sensitivity). The harmonies of this soup are not the ones of the idealised world of “arcadia” (which is a town vision of the countryside and the woodland world), but rather the ones of the natural nature, with all its tastes, sometimes violent but “real”. Once there were the figures and the consistencies (now they do not exist anymore) of the garrulous shepherdesses (pastorelle), who were young figures of women today disappeared; and this soup is nostalgically dedicated to them.

A Giuseppe Alessi recipe
Translated by Gianna Toni
Picture by Kee-Ho Casati


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