ONION SOUP: Caterina de Medici’s Renaissance RECIPE

The “Carabaccia” that you find today in Tuscan restaurants is unfortunately affected by adaptations: restrictions to make it cheaper, or additions to make it more "filling"

Let’s get to the center of our chat, the “Carabaccia” (onion soup), which with Caterina in France becomes the Soupe à l’Oignon.
According to Caterina it was a very erotic food, second only to the artichokes cooked in wine, of which she made several times indigestion… compared to these, the Carabaccia was still lighter and more stimulating (if you know what I mean…) due to both the long cooking of the red onions (brought by Caterina from Certaldo…) and the sensitive and exotic spiciness.
The “Carabaccia” that you find today in various Tuscan restaurants is unfortunately affected by adaptations, restrictions to make it cheaper, or additions to make it more “filling” with other vegetables depending on the season… all excellent dishes, of course, but which have descended from the throne of France to the farmyards, they left the Salone dei Cinquecento in Florence to end up in the rustic taverns of Chianti.

I am a hard and pure “Toscanaccio” and I am not satisfied with anything that is not as close to the original as possible (I am even trying to make Roman Empire “Garum sauce” at home, but that’s another story…that you can find in my experience in Pompeii…), in short, if I eat a sixteenth-century dish I would like to dress like in the “500… So I invite you to taste this, which even compared in various sources and experimented on the field in delicate variations, I believe to be the “Soupe à l’Oignon” of Catherine’s wedding (ah, you are free to wear underwear or not, it depends on whether you want to feel more French or refined Tuscan nobles following Caterina …).

Ingredients for 4 people
– 2 Kg. (4,5 lb) of Certaldo Onion (or in any case sweet red onions)
– 2 Hg. (7 ounce) of peeled almonds
– 1 or more large bunches of unripe grapes juice (in ancient times called Agresto) … or half a glass of white vinegar in a liter of water
– 2 ladles of vegetable broth
– 4 slices of slightly stale Tuscan bread
– 4 abundant spoonfuls of Aged Tuscan Pecorino cheese
– A quarter of a “stick” of Cinnamon
– Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– Fine Volterra salt (i.e. mine salt and not saltwater salt)
– White pepper
– Sugar

THE DAY BEFORE, crush the almonds in the mortar (not in the mixer, for heaven’s sake…) and put them to macerate in the juice of the sour grapes, adding a little cinnamon, also crushed into powder.

Clean and peel the onions and cut them crosswise on the top and bottom. Soak them for an hour in unripe grape juice (or in water and vinegar), making sure they are well covered. Cut them into thin slices and stew them in a covered pot over low heat for 3 hours, taking care to ensure that they do not dry out or stick, if necessary add a little broth gradually. Also pay attention that they do not darken, since the final color must be as “white” as possible.

Add the almonds, draining them from the “agresto”. Add the two ladles of vegetable broth (keeping some aside), the cheese, the remaining cinnamon, a couple of tablespoons of oil, half a teaspoon of white pepper, a teaspoon of salt and one of sugar.
Put back to simmer for half an hour, stirring thoroughly, until you get a kind of fairly liquid cream.

Serve piping hot in 4 terracotta bowls, on the bottom of which we will have put the slices of stale bread quickly soaked in the broth.

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