As mentioned in the earlier post, by the time our waitress served the soup, I was SO stuffed I barely managed to taste three or four bites. But, as it was delicious, I looked and tasted with particular attention in hopes of being able to re-create it at home.
It was a mixture of pulses: beans, green and brown lentil and barley, in a good strong slightly salty stock. It had been thickened by pureeing some of the pulses. N. thought it probably had been cooked with tomatoes. That would give me enough information to get started.
I confess I cheated – slightly. On my last minute assault on the Supermercato in Milano, I picked up package of ‘Zuppa Campagnola di Farro’ and also Fagioli Neri – the second was labelled ‘da Agricoltura Biologica. 2a*
The package directions said to let the grains soak for 6 hours, but I was in a hurry, so I employed the old trick of bringing them to boil in a pot of water, covering and letting them sit for an hour off the heat. I did the same with a handful of the fagioli neri.
Once the main ingredients were ready, I chopped a mix of garlic, sea salt & black pepper to a paste, sautéed that in some olive oil and added a medium onion, finely chopped. Letting that sweat slowly for 10 minutes, I finely diced a medium carrot and added that to the cooking vegetables. Last I added drained pulses, a small glass of tomato juice and two cups of the stock I had made from pork bones, a few dried porcini (Beans were not the only thing I bought in Milano) and the trimmings from the previous nights dinner preparation. Herbs were a dried Provencal mix. That was allowed to simmer for most of the afternoon. To finish I added a splash of Balsamico and a dash of soy sauce – not Italian I know, but it needed something.
The finished product pleased me so much that I wanted to eat the whole pot and it was with great difficulty and several reminders of my diet promises that I restrained myself. That, and I now have a basic recipe for creating a food that will instantly recall a sunny Roman afternoon with a good friend, good rough wine and good soup.
Credits: 1 - National Geographic; 2b – Scan of labels; 3 & 4 - spacedlaw