Pancotto con Rucola e Patate

Bread Soup with Potatoes and Rocket

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This recipe is typical of la cucina povera; making something tasty out of practically nothing at all. Pancotto means ‘cooked bread’ and dishes with this title always have bread added for bulk, texture and flavour. There are many different versions of this sustaining yet delicious dish in Italy, all of which arose from the need to feed the family in times of hardship.

Ingredients

  • 500 g/1 ¼ lb potatoes
  • 450 g/1 lb rocket/arugula leaves, trimmed
  • 8 thick slices stale crusty bread
  • 90 ml/6 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1 small dried red chilli
  • sea salt

Method

  1. Fill a large pan with cold water and add a pinch of salt. Peel the potatoes and slice them thickly. Immediately add them to the water and bring it to the boil.
  2. Lower the heat and simmer the potatoes for 7 minutes.
  3. Add the rocket and continue to cook until the potato slices are tender and have begun to disintegrate.

  4. Add the bread, without breaking it up or removing the crusts, and mix thoroughly.
  5. In a separate frying pan, heat the oil with the garlic and chilli. Cook for 2-3 minutes, to flavour the oil.

  6. Pour the soup into a large heated bowl. Pour over the hot oil, holding back (and later discarding) the chilli and garlic, and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

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