Aquacotta – literally ‘cooked water’. But the best darn cooked water you have ever had! According to the Academia Barilla, the herdsmen and coal men of the Maremma region of Tuscany were accustomed to frequent journeys and routinely traveled with stale bread, oil, garlic, onion and herbs in order to prepare this rustic soup. There are many variations of this soup but on my recent trip to Tuscany, I found a simple and mouth-watering version of this soup in Dario Castagno’s book ‘Too Much Tuscan Wine’.
Now…if you are not familiar with Dario, you MUST read his books…go to Amazon immediately, subito. Dario, a Tuscan tour-guide turned writer, has just published his third laugh-out loud funny book. I have developed a bit of a routine while in Montalcino over the past few years….an early morning drive down to hear the monks chanting at the monestary of Sant’ Antimo, a drive through the hills to the stunning Banfi vineyard, pop in to taste some wines, pick up Dario’s lastest book and laugh over a looooong lunch in the Tuscan hills – life simply does not get better than this. Dario intersperses the retelling of his numerous follies with American tourists (you must read the chapter on the ‘Poolio’!! I hooted with laughter while in a piazza in Montepulciano – very inappropriate !!) with his evenings at home – which often include his wonderful dinner, music and wine choices. His description of his version of Aquacotta left me wanting a crackling fire, a good bottle of Brunello and a steaming dish of this simple but soul satisfying soup. Well, after a long day of errands and not wanting to drag my tired self to the grocery store, I realized that I had all I needed for acquacotta. The fact that I had a good bottle of Rosso di Montalcino sealed the deal.
This soup is very, very simple but so satisfying…..give it a whirl after a long day, open a good bottle of wine and have a floor picnic near the fire. Simple , satisfying and soulful. Enjoy!!
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 (15-1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes (Dario used tomato sauce here)
1 thinly sliced sweet red bell pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
5-6 cup of boiling water
4 large fresh eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Thick slices of bread
1 clove garlic
–Heat olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven. Add onion, garlic and celery. Saute until soft and lightly browned (about 10 minutes). Add the tomatoes and the bell pepper.
-Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
-Stir in the boiling water. Simmer for another 30 minutes or until vegetables are very soft. Adjust seasonings.
-Crack the eggs, one by one, into the soup, taking care not to break the yolks. Cook for another 3 minutes.
-Toast the bread and rub each side with the garlic.
-Place the toasted slices of bread into a soup bowl. Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
-Ladle the soup mixture over the bread, including an egg with each bowl. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of pepper.
-Dust with more cheese and enjoy!!