Garlic soup

Garlic soup finished dish

Garlic soup finished dish

Zuppa di aglio. Versions of this soup exist all over the world. I used to live in the Czech Republic and česnečka was said to be a fantastic cure for a hangover 😉 It is best made with new season “wet” garlic, but regular dried garlic will give good results. Use very good stock, it will be so much better than cubes. It can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock and a vegetarian cheese. Serves 4.

Garlic soup ingredients

Garlic soup ingredients

  • 1 litre of good chicken stock
  • 100g garlic about 2 or 3 heads, peeled and finely diced
  • 200g potatoes, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 slices rustic white bread, toasted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 60g parmesan or grana
  1. Simmer the garlic and potato in the stock for about 20 minutes. The garlic and potato should be very tender.
  2. Liquidize until smooth and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cut a clove of garlic in half and rub the cut side on both side of the toast. This will produce quite a strong garlic flavour, so be careful. If you prefer a mild flavour, leave out this step altogether.
  4. Drizzle the toast with olive oil, put a slice into each bowl, pour the hot soup on top and sprinkle with parmesan.

Carrot and mussel soup

trentino crestCrema di Carote e Cozze. This dish is from Trentino Alto Adige so it is heavily influenced by it’s northern neighbours. Don’t tell my Barese friends, but I found it rather good 🙂 Serves 4


carrot and mussel soup ingredients

carrot and mussel soup ingredients

  • 32 large mussels, cleaned
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 700g carrots
  • 70g butter
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • sugar
  • salt
  1. Dice half of the carrots. Fry in half the butter with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar until caramelized. Put aside.
  2. Finely chop the rest of the carrots. Fry in the rest of the butter for a few minutes with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Add the stock, cover and cook until the carrots are soft. Liquidize.
  3. Put the mussels in a pan with the wine and garlic. Place over a high heat until the mussels have opened. Shell the mussels. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve.
  4. Reheat the carrot purée. Add the mussels and their cooking liquid and the diced carrots. Served with the chopped parsley sprinkled over each portion.

carrot and mussel soup finished dish


Chickpea and tagliatelle soup

Matera crestMinestra di ceci from Matera. A few weeks ago some friends and I visited the beautiful town of Matera in Basilicata. After a very pleasant morning sightseeing we visited a restaurant that had been recommended in the ‘Slow Food’ guide – ‘Le Botteghe’ in Piazza San Pietro Barisano. Wonderful simple food. This is my attempt to recreate one of their specialities.

botteghe entrance

Chickpea soup ingredients

Chickpea soup ingredients

  • 250g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 150g fresh tagliatelle, cut into 5cm lengths
  • 30g smoked pancetta, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Fry the pancetta and garlic cloves in a little olive oil for a few minutes.
  2. Add the chickpeas together with a litre of water and bring to the boil.
  3. Add the rosemary, cover and cook over a moderate heat for around 2 hours.
  4. Remove the rosemary and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the taglietelle and cook for a further few minutes.
  6. This dish is sometimes served topped with fried breadcrumbs.

Variation: When the chickpeas are cooked remove half the chickpeas, liquidize them and return them to the soup.

Brindisi fish soup

Brindisi crestZuppa di pesce alla Brindisina. A couple of weeks ago I got together with a couple of friends in order to cook a fish ‘soup’ . Soup is a bit of a misnomer, as there isn’t really that much liquid involved. It was an all day project involving a trip to the fish market in the morning, lots of preparation in the afternoon (why are mussels so time consuming to clean? I’d happily eat them every day if I didn’t have to spend an age scraping and pulling off various unsavoury parts 🙂 ) and cooking and eating in the evening. I glad to say it was worth the effort. Serves 4

Fish soup ingredients

Fish soup ingredients

  • 600g scorpion fish (or any other firm white fish – we used hake), cleaned and definned.
  • 350g squid, cleaned and cut into pieces.
  • 150g cuttlefish, cleaned and cut into pieces.
  • 300g mussels, cleaned and debearded.
  • 200g clams, scrubbed
  • 300g tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped.
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped.
  • 1 onion, finely chopped.
  • 1 sprig parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped.
  • 1/2 glass olive oil
  • 4 slices stale bread
  1. Soften the onion and celery in a large pan. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until the start to break down and form a sauce.
  2. Add the squid and cuttlefish and cook until they start to become tender – 10-20 minutes.
  3. Add the mussels, clams and chilli, stir and then lay the fish on top. Cover and cook over a low heat until the fish sarts to flake (check from time to time with a fork).
  4. To serve, place a slice of bread in the bottom of a bowl, sprinkle on a little garlic and parsley and spoon the soup on top.
fish soup finished dish

fish soup finished dish

Bean soup with pancakes

puglia crest

This is my attempt to recreate a dish I had on Sunday at Lama S. Giorgio. Theirs was better, but mine was pretty good too 🙂

Serves 4

bean soup ingredientsbean soup ingredients

  • 400 grams  dried mixed pulses — soaked overnight
  • 1 small  carrot, chopped
  • 1 small  onion, chopped
  • 1 stick  celery, chopped
  • 1 pancake (English), cut into triangles
  • 1 litre  homemade stock (no salt added)
  • olive oil

  1. Heat a little olive oli in a saucepan and fry the carrot, onion and celery over a medium until the onion softens – about 5 minutes.
  2. Drain the pulses and add to the pan. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down low and cook until the beans are tender – 1 – 1.5 hours.
  3. Just before you are ready to serve, add the pancake triangles and season with salt. Serve with fresh, crusty bread.
  4. Note: If You don’t have time to make homemade stock, use water. Don’t on any account use stock cubes as the beans will take an age to cook and will not taste anywhere near as nice.

bean soup finished dish

Chicken stock

As it’s so important to use good stock, I thought I’d include a recipe.

chicken stock ingredients

  •   1 cooked or raw chicken carcass
  •   2 celery sticks — roughly chopped
  •   1 large  onion — roughly chopped
  •   2 carrots — roughly chopped
  •   1 handful  parsley stalks
  •   ½  head  garlic
  1.  Put the chicken carcasses into a stockpot, cover with 2½ litres water and bring to the boil. Using a large metal spoon, skim off any white scum from the surface.
  2. Add the vegetables, parsley and garlic to the pan. Return to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered for 2½ hours, skimming occasionally.
  3. Strain the stock through a colander lined with wet muslin into a large, heatproof bowl. Discard all the debris. Reduce the stock for a stronger flavour, if desired. Cool, chill and use the stock within 3 days or freeze in portions. I reduce the stock as much as I can, and then pour it into ice cube trays.

chicken stock finished


Cream of celery soup

Crema di sedano.  Serves 4.

celery soup ingredients

celery soup ingredients

  • 1 litre stock (vegetable or meat)
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 400g celery, chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, diced
  • 50ml milk
  • salt
  • parmesan cheese
  1. Heat the butter and oil in a pan, add the celery and onion and cook for a few minutes, stirring from time to time.
  2. Pour in the stock, add the potatoes, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
  3. Puree using a stick blender until smooth. Warm the milk, remove the soup from the heat, stir in the milk.
  4. Serve with parmesan cheese.
celery soup finished dish

celery soup finished dish

Pasta and potatoes

Bari crestThis soup is another classic Bari dish. If you ask a Barese what their favourite dishes are, they’ll usually mention Pasta e Patate. Serves 4

Pasta and potatoes ingredients

Pasta and potatoes ingredients

  • 500g potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 200g ditali
  • 100g  polpa di pomodoro or tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 celery heart, chopped
  • 1 clove  garlic, peeled and squashed (but still whole)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Brown the garlic in 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Remove the garlic and discard.
  2. Add the potatoes and celery and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper
  4. Add water so that all the ingredients are covered
  5. Cook until the potatoes are starting to fall apart.
  6. Half cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water
  7. Add the pasta to the potato mixture and continue cooking until done.
  8. If the soup is too thick, add a little of the pasta cooking liquid.

pasta and potatoes finished dish

Taranto mussel soup

taranto crestTaranto produces some of the best mussels in the world. They are often eaten raw as an antipasto, but I have to say, I prefer them cooked. This simple soup is a great way to have them.  Serves 4

taranto mussel soup ingredients

  • 1kg mussels, cleaned thoroughly
  • 300g tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, whole
  • 1 chilli, whole
  • 4 sprigs  parsley, chopped

  1. Open the mussels by heating them, along with a little oil in a covered pan. Reserve the liquid.
  2. In a seperate pan, fry the garlic and chilli until the garlic is nicely browned. Remove the garlic and chilli and discard.
  3. Add the tomatoes to the oil, season with salt and cook over a medium until the tomatoes break down to make a sauce. About 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the meat from most of the mussels, reserving a few for decoration.
  5. Add the mussels along, the cooking liquid and the parsley to the tomatoes and heat through.
  6. Serve with crusty bread or crostini

taranto mussel soup finished dish