Tre Zuppe of Summer MMXIII
Sept, 22, 2013
Me, I'm a guy who savors a really good soup, yet I will quickly push aside a faulty soup and wonder "Why the hell did I order soup?" On these bad or even so-so soup occasions you can safely wager my frequent dining companion Nancy Silverton will say "That's what you get for ordering soup." .
On this, the first day of Autumn, I look back on our Summer Italy MMXIII, and recall three soups so good they were nominated for the Soup of the Summer award. (The winner will be announced at the Waldorf Astoria in East St. Louis, Illinois later this year.)
The first outstanding soup was at one of my favorite less-than-two-hours from Panicale restaurants, Locanda Del Glicine, (http://www.cantinapievevecchia.com/locanda/ristorante/) in the midieval town of Campagnatico. That's in kinda south Tuscany, about 20 miles from the Tyrrhenian Sea, a clique of the Mediterranean.
Last year I had the Soup of the Year winner here, a gazpacho. But, at this lunch the manager said the garden tomatoes were not quite ready. Though disappointed, I could appreciate that.
So instead i had the soup they did offer that mid-July lunch, a cream of zucchini with a icy sorbet of ricotta plunked in the middle. Try telling the homies you had a soup with cheese sherbert on it. Anyway, it was excellent. Not the level of last year's storied gazpacho. but good enough to get in a 2013 SOS competition.
The second nominated soup was in Florence at Cibreo Trattoria. Here, at the little sister to one of Florence's premiere dining establishments. Cibreo Ristorante, I had a porcini soup that was thick and very accurately named. This soup, every bite, or I guess, what, you don't bite a soup, every spoonful. slurp, swallow. this soup was yelling "I'm a porcini! I am porcini!. Don't for a minute even think I'm a goddamn button mushroom." Soup was rich.
The third finalists was in Citta Del Pieve, a hilltop town around 30 minutes from Panicale. Here our friend Alan Mori, aka "A", aka "Jack Reacher", told us about Bistrot del Duca.. (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bistrot-del-duca/176113152403336#!/pages/Bistrot-del-duca/176113152403336)
When Christian, the chef/owner recited the menu and said "cold cucumber soup", I was there. This soup was the cool essence of one of my favorite vegetables, a vegetable so breezy that calling it a vegetable don't even seem right. I can see the cucumber from this Bistrot Del Duca garden complaining about even being planted in the vegetable section. Like "Put me over by the fruits or, better yet. stick me in there with my ice cream boys."
A cucumber soup is supposed to be refreshing so there's pressure on a chef to make it extra refreshing. Chef Christian's soup came through.
Here's the soups ( zuppe) from Glicine and Duca. (Nancy's phone has the porcini soup and she's somewhere over Tennessee now.)