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Zuppa di Valpelline

From the Val d'Aosta in northern Italy comes this savory cabbage soup that could double as a casserole. Made with coarse, stale rye bread, this casserole has great character even though the ingredients are humble at best.


Preheat the oven to 300F

1 large head Savoy cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped

4 strips bacon, diced

1 pound loaf stale coarse rye bread, sliced thinly and toasted

3 tablespoons savory or marjoram

1/2 pound Italian Fontina cheese, cut into small pieces

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 cups beef broth

Salt to taste


Simmer the cabbage with the bacon and just a couple tablespoons of water in a casserole with a lid. Cook until the cabbage wilts down a bit Transfer to a bowl.

Line the casserole with a layer of the toasted bread slices. Top with a layer of cabbage, sprinkle on a little of the herbs and some of the cheese. Dot with butter.

Continue making layers until cabbage and bread used up. End with bread layer and a layer of cheese on top of the bread.

Pour the meat broth around the sides of the casserole.

Bake covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.


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