SARONNO, Italy - There was an interesting question last week from a reader who calls herself Muzik Girl.
“Hi there,” she wrote, ‘I'm really interested in figuring out the name of a soup that my grandmother used to make for her children. The recipe has been passed onto us but my father calls it "Belly Band" because he never understood the Italian name for it and that's the closest thing he could come up with. It's a basic chicken or turkey stock but the pasta is made of cream of wheat, egg, salt, pepper and fresh parsley.
Do you have any idea what this soup is called in Italian? If not, do you have any suggestions as to how I can figure this out other than to do a random Google search? My grandmother's family came from the Bari region in Puglia. Any thoughts or suggestions would be very helpful. Thank you.”
|Easy as One, Two, Three|
The recipe I think she’s looking for is a Pugliese standard called semola Battuta. It’s an old, traditional Pugliese recipe that uses just a few ingredients and delivers a great taste.
While you may not think of food as family history, the truth is we all carry the memories of the foods we ate as kids, good and bad, and they make up a large part of us. Speaking for myself, I often cook things based on taste memories, flavors from my grandmother’s kitchen that have forever stayed with me. And judging from Muzik Girl’s email, apparently her family does the same thing.
I have a feeling that this recipe, or a variation or this recipe, is found throughout Italy. It may have a different name, but the concept is the same. My grandmother used to make something very similar using chicken stock, and my family is from Rome. I was only five years old, so I don't remember if it had a name or not, but I do remember the taste.
|Semola, a Key Ingredient|
200 gr of semolina or Cream of Wheat (semola di grano duro)
water or stock (as needed)
Finely chopped parsley
On a pastry board or in a bowl, make a well in the center of the flour, add the egg and water (or stock) and parsley and mix together. Don’t mix too long – it has to crumble. Then chop it with a knife to obtain the texture you want. Add the mix to your soup.
3 medium size potatoes
3 medium size potatoes
Chop the vegetables and put them in a pot, cover with water and cook for 45 minutes over medium/low heat. Puree the cooked vegetables in a blender or an Italian passavedure and add to the soup. Bring to a boil and add the semola Battuta and cook for 3-4 minutes. Serve hot with a sprinkle of freshly grated cheese.
Semola Battuta can be served with any type of stock or soup. This is one of those recipes handed down from generation to generation. I hope the one I’ve printed is the one Muzik Girl was thinking of.
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