Swiss chard & egg soup

Swiss chard & egg soup

Acquacotta

By
From
Tuscany
Serves
6
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

Glorious, spicy, colourful acquacotta is from southern Tuscany in the Maremma area. There are myriad recipes that vary hugely from family to family, season to season and whether it was made in times of hardship when it was little more than its name suggests (‘cooked water’) or wealth when, as in this recipe, bread and eggs are added. Antonella Secciani’s family is from Grosseto and she showed us the traditional way to make it in a terracotta pot with layers of bread, soup and beaten eggs. It is covered and wrapped in cloth so that the bread becomes soft and the residual warmth of the soup cooks the egg. This is our simple version, that we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The quantity of leaves is abundant and should change according to the season, so feel free to swap the Swiss chard or spinach for kale or cabbage.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and halved root to tip then finely sliced into half-moons
2 celery stalks, finely sliced
10 basil leaves
1 litre Poached chicken & chicken stock
or Vegetable stock
or hot water
3 heaped tablespoons tomato puree
1kg swiss chard or spinach leaves, not including stalks, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
6 small slices thick crusty bread, toasted
1 garlic clove, peeled
6 eggs

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a lid over a low heat. Add the onion, celery, basil and a splash of the warm stock or water, and cook for around 15 minutes, until the onions and celery become soft and translucent. Stir the tomato purée into the remaining stock and pour into the pan, then add the chopped chard or spinach, salt and chilli flakes. Stir through until the spinach wilts and the soup bubbles. Reduce the heat, loosely cover the pan and leave to cook for 30–40 minutes until the soup is well combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning and chilli as necessary. Remove from the heat.
  2. Ladle a layer of soup around 1 cm thick into the bottom of a wide saucepan or casserole. Rub the toast slices with the clove of garlic lightly on one side and lay them into the pan garlic side up. Spoon the remaining soup over the bread and crack the eggs on top. Cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat until the eggs have just set. Remove from the heat and leave in a warm place for 5–10 minutes so that the bread can absorb the liquid from the soup. Serve in warm bowls with an egg for everyone.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Caldesi
Tuscany
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