Soup with Bread Under ItClick to Play

Soup with Bread Under It

Minestra con Panno Sotto

Mary Ann Esposito


Aunt Santina sent me the recipe for a peasant soup her mother, Mrs. Belurgi, used to carry to the workers in the fields near Veroli, Italy. The story goes that Mrs. B. would twist a large kitchen towel around her head and tie it securely. A large bowl of the soup would be propped atop her head, and off she went to the fields, arriving just before the bells of the church tolled the Angelus. When she arrived, the workers knelt and prayed and then had their soup.


1/4 cup Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 cups chopped fresh (about 5 pounds) or canned plum tomatoes
2 or 3 sprigs basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound Swiss chard, leaves trimmed and cut crosswise into 3 or 4 pieces
1 loaf Italian bread, cut into 1-inch slices
About 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese


In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is soft. Add the tomatoes, basil, and salt and pepper. Stir well and let simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the Swiss chard and boil for 5 to 6 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain well.

Add the Swiss chard to the tomato mixture, stir well, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Place a layer of bread slices in a deep platter. Spread just enough of the soup over the bread to cover it. Sprinkle with some of the Pecorino Romano cheese. Make a second layer of bread, tomato sauce, and cheese and continue until all the bread and soup is used. Serve immediately.

This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1991.

item recipe is featured in Episode 509 of Season 5.

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