Saturday, 11 July 2009

Zuppa Arcidossana

The video is available here.

This is a REALLY easy recipe, and you can do it just like he does in the video above, but I've made a few substitutions after some trial and error:

- I use halloumi instead of ricotta salata, only because I can't find the ricotta here. It keeps the same purpose though because it's salty and it doesn't melt to much.

- I boil the carrots for just five minutes after I peel and chop them but before adding them to the mix. This softens them for the soup, otherwise they stay a bit crunchy (which is fine if you like crunchy carrots in your soup)
- I use brioche instead of stale bread, it gets really soppy, but it's delicious.
- I use, as always, way more garlic than recommended. I also, in fact, use way more of all the ingredients. If I'm making for Carlos and I (plus several days of leftovers - it holds well), I'll use:

- 3 carrots
- 2 small onions
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 8 sausages (I try to use Lincolnshire, but doubt you can get that in the states)
- 6 mini brioches
- 1 halloumi square
- 2 100G bags of young spinach
- Salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste

Preparation - I do all the prep first because actually cooking the soup doesn't take very long, so it's easier to have everything chopped and not be rushed.
- Peel the carrots and onions and chop them into small pieces (as mentioned above, boil the carrots for about 5 minutes)
- Using the flat part of a large knife, smoosh and peel the garlic cloves
- Remove the sausage meat from its casings
- Chop the brioche and the halloumi into small pieces

- Cover the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and begin to fry the sausages on med-high heat. Break up the sausages with a spoon as they fry so they are in bite-sized chunks.
- After the sausages are cooked through, and a bit brown, add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Let them fry for 3-5 minutes.
- Add the bread, and mix it all together so the bread is coated in the oil and flavors of the sausage and vegetables. Just fry it for 1-2 minutes
- Add the spinach, mixing it until it shrinks
- Add boiling water, enough to cover the ingredients and then so. I usually add a full kettle, but it's up to you. Make sure it looks soupy.
- Add the halloumi in immediately
- Season with salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste and serve hot!

This is what Mark Bittman of the NY Times, had to say about it (24 April 2009)

WHEN you’ve gained enough experience cooking, you’re quite likely to "invent" a recipe that already exists in cuisines and even cookbooks. Especially if the ingredients are common, the techniques standard.
But not this recipe. The ingredients are fairly common, but their combination is not the kind of thing a non-Italian, or perhaps even a non-Tuscan, would put together while experimenting.
I found it in a restaurant, Antica Fattoria del Grottaione, in Montenero d’Orcia in Tuscany. This dish spoke to me. Named for the town in which it originated, Arcidosso, it’s dense, thick and dark, almost a stew. It makes fantastic use of stale bread, sausage, ricotta salata, carrots and spinach, somehow extracting the maximum flavor (and texture, especially in the case of the croutons) from each while blending them perfectly. It uses no stock, only water.
I had never eaten anything quite like it, and my chances of creating this combination in my kitchen are about the same as that monkey typing Shakespeare. Which, in my book, makes it a pretty valuable recipe.

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