I have had this wonderful version of Italian onion soup on many a chilly winter day while in Tuscany. The Italian version is simple yet abundant with the taste of sweet onions mellowed against a backdrop of robust Italian wine and broth. The Tuscan kitchen is all about cooking ‘cucina povera’ – which translates literally to ‘poor kitchen’ – a type of cooking (and a state of mind) which is really just about transforming simple, humble fresh ingredients into meals made with love. So if you find yourself in need of a dish to warm your soul, try this simple onion soup. It will warm your body …and your soul. Buon appetito!
Zuppa di Cipolle
About 3 pounds yellow onions – 4 or 5 large onions
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced
6 cups beef stock, fresh or canned (low sodium if possible)
3/4 cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
6 slices country style bread, about 1/2 inch thick
1 garlic clove, peeled
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated or shaved
Equipment: 1 large soup pot, individual soup bowls – oven proof if possible
1. Peel the onions and cut in half. Thinly slice the onions crosswise.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add in the diced pancetta and cook for about 3-5 minutes until some of the fat has been rendered.
3. Add in the sliced onions, stir. Cover the pot. Lower the heat to medium low and slowly cook the onions until tender, about 15 minutes. Stir often. Stir in the stock and wine. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Stir in the vinegar. Cook until heated throughout. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
5. Toast the bread slices. Rub the toasted slices with garlic clove.
6. Place the bread slices in individual soup bowls. Pour the soup over the bread.
7. Now – two options for the cheese – pick your favorite! Either sprinkle lots of grated cheese over the bowls or shave cheese over the soup bowls. If your bowls are oven proof, you can then place under the broiler until the cheese melts….yummmmm.
8. Serve immediately. Buon appetito!