Zuppa pavese

Zuppa pavese (Pavia Style Soup)

In Lombardia, primi piatti, Soups by Frank28 Comments

A humble soup in the cucina povera tradition, zuppa pavese from the Lombardy city of Pavia has a regal history behind it. Legend has it that French king Francis I, fleeing from defeat in a nearby battle, found himself in a peasant farmhouse where the lady of the house improvised a meal for her royal guest from what she had on hand: bread fried in butter, topped with an egg and some grated cheese, over which she poured boiling broth.

A supremely simple dish, when it’s when made with best quality ingredients—a rich homemade broth, crusty homemade bread, fresh eggs and real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese—zuppa pavese is truly fit for a king. For those of us figuring out what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers, leftover turkey carcass produces a wonderful broth.

Ingredients

For each serving:

Directions

At least 15 minutes before you want to serve your soup, warm a soup plate in the oven (at about 1ooC/200F) and put the broth on the simmer.

In a skillet large enough to hold your slices in one layer, melt a good nob of butter and fry the bread slices in the butter until golden brown on each side.

Remove the hot dishes from the oven and place the bread slices flat on the bottom of each plate. Crack an egg over each slice. Top with a generous sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Raise the heat and bring the broth just to the boil, then pour the hot broth into the soup plate, making sure that you don’t move the egg off the bread. It is best to add the broth at the sides, not directly over the eggs. The heat of the broth should cook the eggs slightly.

Serve immediately—and warn your guests that the plates are hot!

Zuppa pavese

Notes on Zuppa pavese

The success of a zuppa pavese lies in the goodness of its ingredients, and especially the bread and broth. If you don’t want to make your own bread, any bread with a good crust and a firm crumb will do fine, but if you don’t have homemade broth, I simply would not make the dish. Some recipes will have you cut the crust off the bread before frying, but I never do. For a slightly less rich concoction, toast the bread rather than frying it.

The heat of the broth will cook your eggs slightly, leaving the yolk quite runny. You cut open the yolk and let is mix into the broth, creating a velvety liaison.  This traditional method will not cook your eggs completely, and not enough to kill off any salmonella. If you have any doubts about your eggs, and simply don’t like the idea of eating less than fully cooked eggs, you can put the completed dish back into the oven until you see that the whites are fully cooked. The yolks should, however, still be somewhat runny, otherwise they won’t ooze into the broth as a proper zuppa pavese should do.

Zuppa pavese

Rating: 51

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: For each serving

Ingredients

  • 1-2 slices of best quality bread (see Notes)
  • Butter
  • 1-2 eggs
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, q.b.
  • Homemade meat broth, q.b.

Directions

  1. At least 15 minutes before you want to serve your soup, warm a soup plate in the oven (at about 1ooC/200F) and put the broth on the simmer.
  2. In a skillet large enough to hold your slices in one layer, melt a good nob of butter and fry the bread slices in the butter until golden brown on each side.
  3. Remove the hot dishes from the oven and place the bread slices flat on the bottom of each plate. Crack an egg over each slice. Top with a generous sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  4. Raise the heat and bring the broth just to the boil, then pour the hot broth into the soup plate, making sure that you don't move the egg off the bread. It is best to add the broth at the sides, not directly over the eggs. The heat of the broth should cook the eggs slightly.
  5. Serve immediately—and warn your guests that the plates are hot!
http://memoriediangelina.com/2014/11/28/zuppa-pavese-pavia-style-soup/

Comments

  1. I am in the midst of reading a book on the history of food in Paris (for a review) and it mentioned Zuppa Pavese- and I knew you would have a recipe for it. (Have you seen what The NY Times is offering for a recipe for this soup? Sad, pathetic, and wrong…) Can’t wait to make broth and bread and try this!

    1. Author

      I’ll have to go check it out, although I shudder to think… There so much misinformation about Italian food out there, even from established sources, it can be discouraging sometimes, David. Those of us who want to try to stay authentic, it can be like crying in the wilderness sometimes!

  2. Wow .. This was really good. I did however corrupt your recipe. First time I made it as written but I couldn’t get past the runny egg whites. As you suggested, I put it in the oven for a while. It took quite a while to firm up the whites a bit and by then the crusty bread was mushy. Second time (forgive me) I corrupted the recipe a bit by lightly poaching the eggs in the broth before putting the eggs on the fried bread. Not as authentic I suppose but wonderful.

  3. delicioso! que maravilla de combinacion de ingredientes. queso, huevo, caldo (brodo) y pan. es el cielo en la tierra. gracias Frank por tus delicioas recetas. and sorry, had to write in my language and not English…….mind, you understood every word as Italian and Spanish are 80% intellegible. keep up your fantastic work. make it a book!

  4. Bravo Frank, sei riuscito a ricordarmi uno dei piatti che alla sera costituiva la mia cena… a simple recipe with poor ingredients, but rich in taste. Grazie.

  5. Frank, made this the other night. Used some stock I had made from my leftover Christmas prime rib bones. Served it followed by your Christmas cauliflower salad. It was so good, the rich soup followed by the tangy salad was a perfect mid=week meal!

  6. This is such a wonderful winter soup. I had never heard of it until I was researching The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy. For awhile I was making it often. I slid the soup plates under the broiler briefly to “cook” the egg just a bit more for my (then) young kids. But it has fallen out of rotation in our house and I haven’t made it in years. I can’t imagine a better dish for this chilly rainy weather. Cheers, D

  7. Oh my goodness it was delicious. I made homemade beef broth, used day old home made boule, best parm reggiano and organic eggs……Perfecto just delicious…., loved every bite. Next time I may drop the egg in the cooking broth to cook a little further……so the egg will not be slimy. Otherwise I will definately make this again!! Thanks for sharing!!!!

  8. This soup looks comforting, perfect for our currently rainy days. I admit I never had it when I was in Italy, though I’ve been to Pavia many times. It’s quite a nice city.

  9. Anche se appartiene alla tradizione della cucina povera Io lo trovo un piatto molto raffinato, si presenta bene e non è banale! Hai fatto bene a pubblicarlo, per il periodo natalizio farà un figurone in tavola, buona domenica Frank !

  10. This warms by broth-loving heart. I cannot get enough of a simple homemade broth with cheese and bread – but that egg adds the richness. The story behind the recipe is so good. I should just write anthology of short plays from recipes!

  11. Hi Frank, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. “A nice bowl of this”, as my mom would have said, would make a perfect after-Thanksgiving breakfast. This is one of my favorite zuppe, bringing with it, as it does, the added benefit of two lessons: one in history, and the other in generous hospitality to all with prejudice toward none. Let those be our watchwords for the upcoming holiday season.

Leave a Comment