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Wild Vegetable Soup

Zuppa Maritata

SERVES 10

In the days before supermarkets and a car in every garage, cooks were more inventive and found uses for everything that was edible and easy to harvest. A side benefit was that a basket and a knife were the only tools necessary. Collecting wild greens, fruit, or mushrooms was as much a social activity as a function of menu planning. You will need a mix of greens. The more varieties you use, the more complex the flavor of the soup. If you are unable to find more than one or two of these items at your local market, you can always use spinach as one of the greens. Match the broth to the ingredients: If you use shredded beef, use beef broth; if you use leftover chopped chicken, use chicken broth, etc. If you decide on a meatless soup, vegetable broth works well. Or experiment until you find a combination that you and your family enjoy. It will be difficult to achieve the same taste the Imperato sisters serve up, simply because your vegetables haven't been grown in Italy!

Ingredients

Cardoons (Wild artichokes)

Chicory

Beet greens

Borage

Swiss chard

All greens should be washed, any heavy stems removed, and cut into bite size pieces so that all will cook in the same amount of time. You should have at least 4 cups of mixed greens or as much as 7 cups. They cook down, so don't be alarmed at the amount of greens.

1/4 cup Filippo Berio olive oil

4 cups broth or stock

2 cups shredded meat of your choice and/or 2 cups of tiny meatballs

2 or 3 whole cloves garlic

Zest of 2 lemons

1 cup borage flowers

1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and put in all the greens. Leave the pan uncovered and, stirring occasionally, cook the mixture until the vegetables are just wilted. The broth should be hot in a soup pan. Transfer the wilted greens from the frying pan into the hot broth.

Add the meat and/or meatballs and the garlic cloves. These are left whole so that they may be removed more easily just before serving. Once the soup has returned to the simmer, cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the borage flowers, cheese and zest and simmer for 2 minutes more.

Serve immediately either at the table from a tureen or in individual soup bowls.

Note: Borage is often planted at the ends of each row in a vegetable garden. It produces an unusually high number of dainty blue flowers which bees flock to, and, while in the garden, the bees raise the pollination rate for all the other plants.

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