I have spent the last week submerged in Tuscany, reading Frances Mayes "Under the Tuscan Sun" and two Italian cookbooks. Tonight, as I rummaged through a stuffed fridge and little interest in leftovers, I remembered this recipe used throughout Italy during cold weather and hard times. I had a delicious stale quarter loaf of homemade bread from the Keene Farmer's market, rich chicken stock, and some bay leaves and Parmesan, so I gave it a whirl.
5 cups rich chicken stock
leftover stale bread
3 bay leaves
pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1 T olive oil
Bring stock to a simmer with bay leaves and olive oil. Place thick slice of stale bread in bottom of soup bowl and cover with hot stock. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of bread and let soak for 5 minutes. Serve.
It was soothing and light, and somehow, when one called it Pane Cotto Con Alloro, it sounded exotic, not poor. It reminded me of all those old French cooking books, filled with snails and frogs and pigeons - cooks that utilized the bounty from foraging the surrounding land. Better than the stark foraging of Euell Gibbons, a popular writer in the 70's and 80's, who wrote about eating cattails and weeds, but without the charm of the French and Italians.
My baby foodie granddaughter would love this ! All the things she loves - carbs and cheese and soup!
As I said, it's a modest soup - soothing and filing, but I think the next time I would throw in some wild greens, that being chives and Egyptian onion greens, garlic greens, maybe some rugula, finely chopped and thrown in at the last minute. And it would be prettier with curls of cheese, not grated, but still, a good recipe to have as a staple.