The autumn is here and Christmas is just around the corner so this is the time of the year in which Bolognese cuisine becomes more tasty than ever and we enjoy the traditional dishes at home with our full family.
I'd like to talk about a classic but hidden soup, much less known than the famous tortellini, that I usually show during our food tour in Bologna because it's really unusual.
It's called Zuppa Imperiale (imperial soup) but you can also find it called Minestra Reale (royal soup). In the showcases of Paolo Atti bakery or Le Sfogline it seems more like a cake cutted into small cubes than a soup. It's both of them indeed.
Zuppa Imperiale recipe handwritten in my version of Pellegrino Artusi's book (around 1930) .
The origin of this recipe is not well known as Torta degli Addobbi, but the name refers to a noble and upper class soup and we can think that could be true as some of the ingredients (like butter or Parmesan cheese) were really expensive in the past.
We know that Pellegrino Artusi talks about it in his book The Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. Recipe number 15 in soup chapter is "Minestra composta con il semolino". He doesn't refer to Imperial Soup, which is the name we usually know for it, but the recipe is almost the same.
Zuppa Imperiale cubes, Photo by Stefania Ricci Frabattista, via Flickr
1 liter and a half of meat broth
8 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons of semolina
50 grams of butter
1 pinch of nutmeg
One last tip: the dough can be baked in the oven a day in advance, or can be placed in special bags for food and then frozen. At the time of need must be put into the boiling broth still frozen.
Zuppa Imperiale ready for the spoon, Photos by Stefania Ricci Frabattista, via Flickr
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