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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Food: Soup... Italian Style



Allora, we were in a restaurant, and I was talking with the chef about the soups on the menu. It’s cold days now, and I love soup. But I discovered in Italy, it was a bit more complicated than just soup. It seems I like... well.. here's how he described Italian soups to me:
Me: What's this one then?
Him: It’s just a broth, a brodo.
Me: Well, the brodo sounds delicious. And would be even better if it had some vegetables in it.
Him: That would be a good idea, but then it wouldn’t be a brodo anymore.
Me: No?
Him: Nope. Then it would be a minestra.
A brodo with vegetables is a minestra.
And a brodo with pasta in it becomes a pastina.
Pastina is pasta inside of brodo.
Me: I see…
I’d call them all soup. Just soup.
Me: I like when my soup is full of things. More like a stew actually… Like if you took a stew and added more liquid, drop by drop, until it crosses some line of liquid-ness where it is a soup and not a stew, that’s what I like. With a nice crusty bread...
Him: Capisco, but if there is stuff like bread in the broth or the minestra, then it is zuppa.
Me: Si, soup.
Him: Nope. Zuppa.
Me: All soup. Just soup. Soup.
Me: You know what I like? Bisque, I love bisque. That has a different name too.. not soup.
Him: Hmm. What is it?
Me: It’s soup.
Him: What kind?
Me: It is quite thick, and cream-based,
Him: Oh, ok! Then it’s the passato here on the menu! Like a zuppa, but thick with cream and things in it.
Me: Si, and it is usually made with seafood things… lobster bisque per esempio. Or shrimp or crab bisque. What you do is blend it all very smooth so that…
Him: Wait , wait… If you blend it, then it is not a passato. Then it’s the vellutata. It means velvet.
Me: Vellutata. Ok, well, I love vellutata, and that's a perfect name for it. We sometimes put small pieces of bread or crackers in it...
Him: Don’t put too many. Or it will become a zuppa again.
Me: Of course. Foolish of me.
Him: The word is from inzuppare… to put things in liquid to absorb. That’s where zuppa comes from.
Me: Well cat my dog…I always thought zuppa meant soup.
Zuppa.
Zupp.
Zoop.
Soup.

And here, to clarify the subject, are some photos I found to illustrate the different types of Italian soups:


Brodo di Carne

Minestra

Pastina in Brodo
Zuppa di Pesce


Passato di Pomodoro

Vellutata di Marroni


Thanks to all the Italian recipe sites where I found these appetizing images.

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