This recipe was given to me by my friend Pierino Jovene from Amalfi. Pierino is a cook of dazzling skill who owns a seafood restaurant in my hometown of Cesenatico. The restaurant is called Il Gambero Rosso, the red shrimp. Its fame is large enough to draw customers from all Italy.
Pierino is as gifted a storyteller as he is a cook; I wish I could reproduce in English syllables the melodious cadence of his Neapolitan speech. I shall be content if I have succeeded in duplicating the lyrical flavor of his ravishing soup.
The essential element that brings this soup to life is freshness. The zucchini must be young and firm; the tomatoes honestly ripened; the potatoes, if possible, new waxy boiling potatoes. And the basil! Although parsley is a tolerable substitute, what you really want is the crowning fragrance of young basil.
You will notice that half the potatoes are chopped very fine. This is so they will dissolve in the soup and thicken it. The zucchini must be cooked until very soft, but not mushy. In another extraordinary version of this dish, Pierino uses zucchini blossoms instead of zucchini. If you have a source for blossoms, by all means try it, following the same cooking procedure.
© 1986 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.