Made with water instead of stock, this humble Tuscan Vegetable Soup is incredibly aromatic and flavourful.
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 garlic cloves
3 sprigs thyme
1/2 pound fresh cremini and or button mushrooms, sliced
2 medium portobello mushrooms, gills removed and sliced
1/4 cup dry red wine, such as Chianti
1/2 cup tomato purée
4 cups water
1/2 cup roughly chopped celery hearts
1 head escarole, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 to 3 tbsp. white vinegar
6 thick slices rustic country bread
Extra virgin olive oil, for finishing
Grated pecorino, for finishing
Chopped parsley, for finishing
In a small bowl, soak dried mushrooms in 1/2 cup hot water for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid. Chop and set aside.
Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme sprigs, fresh mushrooms and the soaked porcini mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables start to soften and lightly brown, about 5 minutes.
Add red wine, tomato purée, water, reserved porcini soaking liquid, celery hearts and escarole. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer, about 30 minutes.
Assembly To poach the eggs, fill a saucepan with approximately 3-inches water. Stir in vinegar. (The vinegar will help the egg whites coagulate faster). Bring water to a simmer. Swirl the water in the pan in a circular motion to create a vortex. Break 1 egg into a cup and slide into the swirling water. Repeat with remaining eggs, adding eggs in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook eggs at a bare simmer until whites are firm but yolks are still runny, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer eggs with a slotted spoon onto paper towels to drain. Season the poached eggs with salt and pepper.
To serve, add slice of bread to bowl. Pour soup over top. Finish with poached egg, pecorino, drizzle of olive oil and chopped parsley.
Yield: 6 servings.