Tuscan cooks are partial to making soups, often favoring them over pasta. And like pasta, they are a first course or depending on the number of ingredients that go into them, they can serve as a main course. Bread is often a component in Tuscan soup, either as thickener as in Pappa al Pomodoro or placed in the base of a soup bowl.
In summer I like to make soups on the lighter side, favoring a light tomato soup, but when crisp weather arrives, give me something hearty like this onion soup. I make it using a variety of onions from my garden but common yellow onions yield a very nice flavor.
6 tablespoons Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 pound pancetta, diced
5 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
5 1/2 cups hot beef broth, fresh or low-sodium canned
1/2 cup dry red wine
Fine sea salt to taste
Grinding coarse black pepper
4 slices coarse bread cut 1/2-inch thick
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
In a large soup pot heat 4 tablespoons of the oil over medium high heat, add the pancetta and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the onions, cover the pot and cook slowly for about 15 minutes, stirring often. When the onions are limp add the lemon juice and allow it to evaporate.
Pour in the broth and wine. Stir the mixture. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep the soup warm while you fry the bread.
Preheat the broiler.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a sauté pan and brown the bread on both sides. Drain the slices on paper towels, then place a slice in each of 4 individual soup bowls. Pour the soup over the bread and divide and sprinkle the cheese over the top.
Broil the soup until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA IN TUSCANY by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2003.
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