Zuppa di Verdura

Zappa di Verdura (zoo-pah dee vehr-doo-rah) is a thick vegetable soup from Tuscany with a rich, appetising green colour.

This is an ideal soup to make during the summer when fresh vegetables are plentiful.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 leeks, trimmed, cleaned and chopped

2 tablespoons flour

2 pints chicken stock, boiling

4- teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

4- teaspoon celery seeds

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

6 large lettuce leaves, washed and shaken dry

1 lb. spinach, washed and trimmed

1 bunch watercress, washed and shaken dry

8 oz. fresh shelled or frozen and thawed peas

2 mint sprigs

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over moderate heat. When the oil is hot, add the leeks to the pan and fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until they are soft and translucent but not brown.

Remove the pan from the heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour to make a smooth paste. Gradually stir in the chicken stock, being careful to avoid lumps. Stir in the salt, pepper, celery seeds and rosemary.

Return the pan to the heat and bring the soup to the boil, stirring constantly. Add the lettuce, spinach, watercress, peas and mint to the pan and bring the soup back to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer the soup for 20 to 25 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender.

Remove the pan from the heat. Ladle the soup into the jar of an electric blender, a little at a time, and blend until the soup is smooth and creamy. Alter-natively, pour the soup through a fine wire strainer held over a large bowl. Using the back of a wooden spoon, rub the vegetables through a strainer until only a dry pulp is left. Discard the pulp in the strainer.

Return the soup to the saucepan. Return the saucepan to moderate heat and, stirring occasionally, bring the soup to the boil.

Remove the pan from the heat. Taste the soup and add more seasoning if necessary. Pour the soup into a warmed soup tureen or individual soup bowls. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve at once.

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