Lake Isle Press

Brothy Bread Soup with Poached Eggs

When broken with a spoon, the poached egg releases its richness into the broth while the croutons add body. Full of coastal Tuscany flavor.

Brothy Bread Soup with Poached Eggs

Ingredients

    On a visit to the Maremma, I was hoping to see the wild boars used to make a much-prized prosciutto. Not a glimpse. I did have plenty of opportunities, however, to sample a brothy vegetable and bread soup for which this area of coastal Tuscany and Lazio is also known. Despite an unpromising name meaning "cooked water," acquacotta is full of flavor. When broken with a spoon, the poached egg releases its richness into the broth, while the croutons add body.
  • 1 cup medium bread cubes cut from a country-style white or whole-wheat loaf (about 2 slices)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 small stalk of celery, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped or shredded chard (any variety) or spinach leaves
  • 1 cup chopped canned plum tomatoes with some of the puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, or more to taste

Directions

1. Preheat an oven or toaster oven to 400°F. Toss the bread cubes on a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook until dry to the touch and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, leaving the cubes in the oven.

2. Add a little olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) to a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion until soft but not colored, stirring often. Reduce the heat and add the carrot and celery, sauteing for a couple of minutes longer. Add the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes, cooking just until the garlic is fragrant.

3. Add 2 quarts of cold water and 2 teaspoons salt; bring to a boil. Stir in the chard and tomatoes; reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to blend the flavors. Taste the broth and season as needed with more salt and hot red pepper.

4. Bring 1 quart water to a very gentle simmer in a deep skillet or saucepan just wide enough to accommodate 4 poached eggs. Break an egg into a small dish and, holding it close to the surface of the water, slide it in. When the water returns to a simmer, add the next egg. Poach the eggs until the whites are opaque and the yolks firm up slightly but are still soft, about 2 1/2 minutes. Remove the eggs (in the same order you poached them) with a skimmer or slotted spoon.

5. Meanwhile, ladle the soup into 4 broad, shallow bowls. Top each serving with a poached egg, a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano, and croutons.

Note
For ease of preparation and a more rustic look, poach the eggs right in the soup pot. They will sink from sight but rise to the surface when almost fully cooked. Transfer eggs to the soup bowls as described above, and ladle the soup around them.

Variation
In addition to the other garnishes, add small strips of prosciutto, torn by hand, to the bowls just before serving

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