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Modern Tuscan Onion Soup

From The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, by Giuliano Bugialli

Lighter than French Onion Soup, because the onions are parboiled rather than sautéed in butter. Pancetta, olive oil, and Parmigiano provide the Italian flavor, while the specifically Tuscan touch is the slices of good bread placed at the bottom of the bowl. Though post-Renaissance, the recipe is still an old one.

4 large white onions, cleaned
Coarse-grained salt
2 ounces pancetta or prosciutto
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cups hot chicken or meat broth, preferably homemade
4 slices Pane Toscano (Italian bread)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano, approximately


Leave the onions whole. Cook them in a large quantity of boiling, salted water for 10 minutes, then drain them, place under cold running water to cool, and chop coarsely. Transfer to a bowl.

Chop the pancetta coarsely and sauté very lightly in the olive oil in a flameproof casserole, preferably terra-cotta. Add the chopped onions and sauté until they are golden, then add the hot broth. Cover the casserole and simmer for 35 minutes.

Toast the bread slices on both sides. Place one in each of 4 heated terra-cotta soup bowls.

Taste the soup for salt and pepper, then pour into the bowls. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and freshly ground black pepper, then cover the bowls with lids and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: Serves 4

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