An Ottawa restaurateur is serving up some free hot soup for Newfoundland visitors, with a flavour profile they'll find familiar, but likely have never supped before.
Claudio Fracassi has many items on the menu at Soup Guy Plus in downtown Ottawa, where he's become known for his unique flavours of soup — including a Jiggs dinner soup that is based on a boiled dinner that is a traditional Sunday staple for many people in Newfoundland and Labrador.
'It's the real thing. It tastes like you're in St. John's or anywhere in Newfoundland.' - Claudio Fracassi
"It's the real thing. It tastes like you're in St. John's or anywhere in Newfoundland," Fracassi told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.
Made with salt beef, split peas, carrots, cabbage, a little Mount Scio savoury and a touch of his Italian flair, Fracassi is giving Newfoundland visitors a warm welcome and a taste of home, by offering them a bowl of his Jiggs dinner soup — free of charge.
"If anybody who comes from Newfoundland as a tourist or visiting for business, you tell me, I'll take your word for it … and you want to come in and try the Jiggs dinner soup, it's on the house," said Fracassi.
Fracassi lived in Newfoundland for several years and worked in retail, not as a restaurateur.
Although he left in the 1980s, it was his love for the province and the memory of many Sunday dinners with friends that inspired him to create the traditional Newfoundland-themed soup.
While here, he wasn't crafting new recipes but working in retail which took him to many corners of the province — one being Hant's Harbour, where the fish plant was the inspiration for his Hant's Harbour Crab au Gratin Mushroom Soup.
Big name soups
A few years ago, Fracassi started making soups using recipe ideas from politicians and celebrities, including some regular customers.
Some items on the menu include the Stephen Harper Beef & Chicken Chili Soup, Peter Van Dusen Green Split Pea with Ham, Thomas Mulcair Creamy Onion and Mushroom, and the Elizabeth May Green Vegetarian.
Even though he's not open in Newfoundland and Labrador, he told host Anthony Germain that he wants to send some soup for St. John's Morning Show listeners to taste.
'Honestly, you will not believe the enthusiasm and what this soup is doing' - Claudio Fracassi
"I'm going to make your soup, the Jiggs dinner and I'll take care of this and send it to Newfoundland, and you're going to serve it."
"Honestly, you will not believe the enthusiasm and what this soup is doing — we're the real thing."
He said he has plans to expand his franchise, but his dream would be to open a location in St. John's.
Fracassi has also created a soup to honour Anthony called the Anthony Germain Spicy Shanghai Chicken Chow. He said it was a hit right away.
Fracassi said that a show with Rick Mercer has been in the works, where the two switch roles — Mercer as the soup guy — and Fracassi playing Mercer.
For this reason, he added Mercer's name to the recipe's title, making it Rick Mercer's Newfoundland Jiggs Dinner Soup.