Zuppa Inglese

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

zuppa inglese the name of an Italian dessert which is related in composition (sponge cake/biscuits, liqueur, custard and/or cream, optional topping/decoration), although probably not in ancestry, to the English trifle. At first glance the name would seem to mean ‘English soup’. In fact, zuppa and the French term soupe and the English word ‘sop’ referred in medieval times to pieces of bread set to soak in broth. Then with the passage of time the mixture of bread and broth took on the name (which now became ‘soup’ in English). Eventually the primary meaning of the terms in the three languages became soup, as the word is now used, whether or not pieces of bread are present. Yet the old meaning lingered on in certain expressions, including Italian use of zuppa for a sweet confection with a cake-like or biscuit basis. There are quite a few of these confections, the inglese version being only one.