Here’s an easy one dish meal inspired by Lidia Bastianich’s recipe for Acquacotta, a traditional soup from the Maremma region of Tuscany. Serve the soup with a slice of grilled bread, a poached egg and some thin slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano. (Oh…and some wine. But you knew that!)
Chard and Leek Soup with Grilled Bread and Poached Egg
serves 6 – 8
3 leeks, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
4 stalks celery (the inner stalks with the leaves are great for this soup), sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, stems removed (mostly)
1/2 bunch basil leaves, stems removed (mostly)
2 – 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 bunch chard, large stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 – 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 cups water, boiling
for serving: grilled bread, eggs for poaching, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Rinse all vegetables with water, pat dry with clean kitchen towel and prepare as noted in ingredient list, above. Place leeks, celery, parsley leaves and basil leaves into the workbowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped, not quite a paste.
2. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the leek mixture and stir for several minutes to dry out moisture and carmelize a bit. Push the leeks to one side in the pot, make a little open space at the bottom of the pan, add a touch more olive oil, sprinkle in the pepper flakes and stir to toast a bit. Do the same with the tomato paste. Then stir tomato paste and pepper flakes into the leek mixture. Cook for a total of about 10 minutes before adding the water (next step).
3. Add the boiling water to the soup pot containing the leeks+. Add the salt and the chard. Simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes.
4. To poach eggs in the soup: After the soup has cooked in step 3, ladle some of the soup, heavy on the greens, into a saute pan so that the soup is about 1 1/2 inches deep. Bring to a simmer, make little wells in the greens using your ladle, then crack an egg into each well. (If you are serving more than 4, do this in 2 stages — you don’t want to try to poach more than 4 eggs at a time.) Sprinkle some sea salt on each egg yolk and cook until egg is done, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the serving bowls.
5. Prepare the serving bowls by warming them then placing a piece of grilled bread at the bottom. Place the poached egg on top of the bread then ladle the soup and greens around the bread. Pass the Parmigiano, as well as additional salt and olive oil at the table. Enjoy!
Amy’s Kitchen Coach Tips
- To wash leeks, slice off the root end as well as a few inches of the dark green leaves on the other end, discard. Split the leek in half, lengthwise then slice crosswise into desired size. Fill large bowl with water and add leek pieces. Swish them around in the bowl of water then lift them out onto a clean kitchen towel to dry. This leaves the dirt in the bottom of the water bowl.
- This is a peasant soup and there are as many variations as there are cooks. Free yourself a bit and experiment with different aromatics (onions etc) and leafy greens.
- Onion Variations: substitute 2 small yellow onions for the leeks. As we move towards spring, this is the perfect soup for using those spring onions and green garlic you will see at the farmers market.