Rustic Vegetable Soup with Salt Cod

Never has a name so inadequately described a dish. Called acquacotta ("cooked water") in Italian, this hearty vegetable soup, nearly a stew, has been a staple of Lazian farmers since at least the second century BC, according to Emilio Ferracci, a food historian and the son of Anna Dente, the chef of Osteria di San Cesario.


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  • Active:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6
  • Time(Other): Plus overnight soaking
KEY: Fall, Italian, Soups & Stews, Web Exclusive, Dinner, Lunch

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  • One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes—tomatoes chopped, juices reserved
  • One 3/4-pound salt cod fillet
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced crosswise 1 inch thick
  • 2 pounds fresh cranberry beans, shelled (2 cups), or canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 pound kale—stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped (3 cups)
  • 1/2 pound escarole—large stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped (3 cups)
  • One 1/2-pound baking potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt
  • Four 1/2-inch-thick slices of country-style bread

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large bowl, cover the salt cod with cold water. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours or up to 2 days. Change the water three times a day.
  2. In a large, enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the zucchini, beans, onion, kale, escarole, potato and tomatoes with their juices. Add the water and crushed red pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 50 minutes. Season lightly with salt.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°. Set the bread on a rimmed baking sheet. Generously brush both sides of the bread with olive oil. Bake for about 12 minutes, until browned and crisp.
  4. Add the cod to the casserole and simmer over moderately low heat until the cod is heated through, about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, gently break the cod into 2-inch pieces.
  5. Set the toasted bread in shallow bowls. Ladle the stew over the bread. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Make Ahead

The soup can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently before proceeding.

Contributed By Published October 2010

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