Saturday, April 5, 2014

Garmugia: soup from Lucca

A reviving early spring soup

fava beans, artichokes, peas and asparagus, amongst others

The origins are unclear but this soup is certainly found only in the environs of Lucca and it is clearly a dish to be cooked and eaten in early spring when the fava beans and peas are at their most tender. The origin of the name garmugia (rhymes with Perugia) may be germiglio or sprout since the vegetables are all the first of the season.

The addition of meat and pancetta makes this an extremely nourishing soup; perhaps it was intended as a restorative when farmworkers emerged from the winter and prepared their minds and bodies for the new season's labours. 

Personally I find the meat addition superfluous, both because the fresh young vegetables can be enjoyed on their own and because nowadays we are all less in need of such boosts; if anything we should be cutting down, not adding to our diets.

peas and beans podded, artichokes cleaned and hulled of their chokes, kept in acidulated water to avoid blackening

However the recipe below faithfully reproduces the original 

Ingredients for 6; 6 spring onions, 150 gr of asparagus tips, 150 gr of fresh peas, 150 gr di fresh fava beans, 4 cleaned and de-choked artichokes, 100 gr of bacon/pancetta, 150 gr veal or beef mince, 2 tbspn extravirgin olive oil, salt, pepper, 6 slices of rustic bread, 1½ litres of vegetable stock.

peas and beans in the pot

Chop the onions finely and gently fry in the oil; once they become transparent add the peas and fava beans, seasoning, diced bacon/pancetta and minced meat.

Leave this to cook a little, covered, and then add the asparagus tips and the finely sliced artichokes, cover with vegetable stock (or water) and simmer until ready. In Italy 'ready' means cooked until completely tender; others may prefer a slightly undercooked result. Serve with bread, toasted or fried in olive oil, although people from Lucca seem to disagree on how essential the bread is to this dish.


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