academia barilla  May 2008

Acquacotta, the Stone Soup – Traditional Recipe from Tuscany

Though the famous popular Acquacotta soup has a very mysterious and unusual [...]

Though the famous popular Acquacotta soup has a very mysterious and unusual name, it is a well-known soup dish that originates from the Maremma area of Tuscany. The Italian name of this soup literally means “cooked water”.

Legend has it that the inventors of this dish, the herdsmen and coal men of Maremma, were accustomed to frequent journeys, and thus normally traveled with stale bread, dried meat, oil, garlic, onion, and a few herbs, in order to prepare acquacotta.

Academia Barilla Short Movie Awards A more poetic version of its origin can be traced in the short movie La Zuppa di Pietra (Stone Soup) by Christian Carmosino, winner of the First Prize at the latest Academia Barilla Short Films Festival.

In the short film director Carmosino tells a story staged in the 19th century in a village in rural Italy, where the metaphore of a stone soup stands for the pleasure of getting around the table for a rich meal all together by sharing ingredients, big smiles, and a big heart.

You can discover more about award winning director Christian Ambrosino by browsing his online channels on YouTube and MySpace, from where we got the embed code (with Christian’s authorization) to republish the beautiful La Zuppa di Pietra short film here below in full. Enjoy it!

Contrary to its origins as a peasant dish, made simply of water and a few flavors, acquacotta is a very hardy soup. There is an assortment of recipes for acquacotta amongst the different areas of Tuscany, yet acquacotta is distinguishable from other Tuscan soups due to its use of eggs and stale bread at the end of (and not during) its preparation.

We found several book tracing the origins and tradition of acquacotta at the Academia Barilla’s Gastronomic Library in Parma, such as “Cucina e vini della Toscana” by Flavio Collutta (1974 Mursia Editore), “Il grande libro della cucina Toscana” by Paolo Petroni (1991 Ponte alle Grazie), and Sara Vignozzi and Gabriele Ganci’s cookbook “Tuscany – Flavour of Italy” (McRae Books, 1999), from which we picked the traditional recipe here below (image taken from the same book).

Academia Barilla Traditional Recipes: Acqua Cotta

(serves 4)

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: about 1 hour
Recipe grading: fairly easy


- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cups (10 oz – 300 g) fresh or frozen peas
- 1 and 1/4 cups (l7 oz – 200 g) freshly hulled broad beans
- 1 medium carrot, sliced
- 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
- 1 crumbled dried chili pepper
- salt to taste
- 12 oz – 300 g trimmed young Swiss chard or spinach leaves, washed and shredded
- 10 oz – 300 g firm, ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped
- 6 and 1/2 cups (2 and 1/2 pints – 1.5 liters) boiling water
- 4 large fresh eggs
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup (2 oz – 60 g) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino cheese
- 4 slices firm-textured white bread, 2 days old
- 1 clove garlic

Suggested wine: any dry white wine


Pour the oil into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the onions, peas, fava beans, carrot, celery, chili pepper, and a dash of salt.

Sauté for about 10 minutes until tender and lightly browned. Add the chard or spinach and the tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour in the boiling water and leave to simmer gently for 40 minutes, adding more salt if necessary.

Using a fork or balloon whisk, beat the eggs with salt, pepper, and the grated Parmigiano or pecorino cheese.

Toast the bread and when golden brown, rub both sides of each slice with the garlic. Place a slice in each soup bowl or in individual straight-sided earthenware dishes, and pour a quarter of the beaten egg mixture over each serving.

Give the soup a final stir and then ladle into the bowls. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and add a pinch of pepper.

Serve immediately and enjoy acquacotta sharing it with others, as in Christian Carmosino’s award winning short movie!


Our Chefs at the Academia Barilla Culinary School suggest to use Academia Barilla’s products such as Toscano IGP extra virgin olive oil, Peeled Cherry Tomatoes, and Academia Barilla’s traditional Parmigiano Reggiano or the Sardinian Pecorino Sardo Gran Cru, which you can all easily find at our gourmet online store. also, try Mantecarlo Bianco as dry white wine for better recipe results.

Buon appetito from Academia Barilla and Italian Food Lovers!

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