Italian recipes – Quasi-Tuscan soup

(4 people)
200g (.5 lb) pearled barley
100g (3oz) dried beans
30g (1 oz) butter
olive oil, possibly with a strong flavor, possibly from Tuscany
50g (2 oz) minced pancetta (or bacon)
chopped: 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 onion, 1 stem celery, some rosemary
cubed: 1 carrot, 1 leek, 2 potatoes
1 tbsp of tomato paste
1.25 l (5.5 cups) stock
1 small cabbage (small!)
Parmesan cheese


  • The soup is often a good way to finish off veggies you have in the fridge, so e.g. Napa cabbage is OK too (with, or instead of, normal cabbage); more leek/less onion and vice versa; etc..
  • The recipe does not mention which beans. Most are good. Yours truly especially likes to use black-eyed peas, which is probably how Dante ate it.
  • Can be accompanied with bread croutons or pita chips at the discretion of the eater, but it’s got enough carb to be edible on its own.

Keep barley and beans in cold water for 12 hours, then drain. Heat up the butter, oil and bacon, then add the chopped and cubed vegetables, then the barley, beans and tomato paste. Add the stock, bring to a boil, and cook for about an hour. Then, cut up the cabbage leaves into strips and add them, cook for 20 more minutes. Serve, adding salt and pepper as needed and garnishing with Parmesan cheese and raw olive oil.

For best results, the soup can be made with a pressure cooker. In this case, halve the cooking times. Cook the vegetables for 30 minutes, then remove from fire, depressurize, add the cabbage, repressurize and cook for 10 minutes. If you can’t use the pressure cooker, don’t – I don’t want to be sued by your angry estate. An excellent compromise is a dutch oven the likes of which you can buy from Staub or Le Creuset, if budget is not an issue.

Italian recipes – Northern Italian beef boil

To be had strictly with Barbera wine.

The Meat

Put in a pressure pot:
1 pc beef biancostato (ribs with enough white matter)
1 pc beef collo (chuck) o coscia (round)
1 pc soup chicken (any bony pieces will do – wing, drumstick – no breast)
2 white onions
1 stem celery
1 carrot
1 potato
a bit of olive oil

Cover with water. Close, wait for the whistle, and then let cook for 45 minutes. Note:

  • In principle, you should add the chicken only after 20 minutes. To do so depressurize, add the chicken, repressurize and cook for another 25 minutes. What happens if you don’t do that is that the chicken will kind of melt. I know, that doesn’t sound like a bad thing.
  • You can also add a piece of beef lingua (tongue) but in that case cook for 60 minutes. The rest of the beef can take it.

Salsina verde (the little green sauce)

Make two hard-boiled eggs: Boil some water in a saucepan, when boiling add two eggs, turn off the fire and wait 12 minutes and 23 seconds. While you wait, go to the next step.

Blend the following:
1 medium bunch of Italian parsley, just leaves, no stems
3 anchovies
a bunch of olive oil (enough to lube the blender)
2 cloves of garlic
Ideally, you’d want to use an immersion blender (the kind you hold in your hand).

Take 2 slices of bread (American size slices, or 3 Italian size slices). Remove the crust. Cut it into small cubes. Put it in a bowl and drench it with white vinegar (ideally, white wine vinegar). Add little vinegar, mix, let it soak, then add some more. It’s hard to explain exactly how much vinegar you need, but the good news is, you are going to dip some really fatty beef in it, so it can afford to be a little too tart.

Squeeze the bread cubes with your hand and put them in the blender together with the hard-boiled egg yolks (what of the egg whites? Not my problem). Blend some more. Add olive oil until you reach the desired consistency.

Other sauces and garnishings

If done properly, bollito is very tasty but nonetheless it is typically served with a selection of dips. You can serve whatever sauces you want, but here is a list of traditional dips (beside the salsina verde):

  • Mayo
  • Spicy sauce (any)
  • Salt melted in olive oil
  • Just salt (warning: only for real men)

Now that you have the dips, it’s also nice to serve some raw celery sticks for extra dipping.

Finally, you can and should use the broth to make a risotto! The broth is so tasty that all you’ll need is butter, onion and rice.