It’s frigid outside. Piercing winds whip down Alpine slopes, icy snow slides off slate rooftops, and daily life continues with hearty meals of simple dishes. Like layers of clothing warming everyone in the Val dˈAosta, residents of the Valpelline tuck into soup made with layers of bread, cabbage, salumi, and cheese. Nourishing warmth appears many ways. A masterful example of La Cucina Povera is their traditional soup, Seupa à la Vapelenentse or Zuppa di Valpelline.
If you love cheese fondue, ham-and-cheese or Reuben sandwiches, or French onion soup, you will love this northern Italian soup. No, it isn’t heavy if you prepare it the right way. Top with Fontina Val dˈAosta, the most important cheese in Italian fonduta. Bake as a casserole until the cheese topping softens and bubbles into golden deliciousness. Serve as a first course or minestra; however, it excels as the main dish, immediately being the center of attention.
From home cooks to professional chefs, everyone holds this signature dish dear to their hearts as well as their stomachs. So much so that an annual festival celebrating this culinary symbol of local culture is held the last week of July in the Valpelline comune. (Yes! Even during hot summer months this dish is cherished. Zuppa is zuppa.)
Original recipe, thoroughly tested. Easy step-by-step directions. Ingredient listing includes ounce/gram weights, volume, and inch/centimeter measurements, where applicable, making it easy to follow. One long PDF with two pages of excellent Chef’s Tips describing choice of ingredients, options, and special layering techniques creating your own signature dish.
Two different recipe proportions for two different sizes of baking containers, and several photos. 6 1/2-inch/16-cm baking container makes 4 first-course or 2 main course servings. Cook time: 20 minutes for cabbage mixture. Bake time: 45 minutes. OR 8-inch/20-cm baking container makes 6 first-course or 4 main course servings. Cook time: 30 minutes for cabbage mixture. Bake time: 55 minutes. Easily change ingredients for any size of baking dish or casserole.
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