Acquacotta

Acquacotta, an Italian bread soup from Maremma in southern Tuscany, is simply Shakshuka with an Italian accent. Stale bread, cooked onions, and chiles are stewed with tomatoes. On top are perched poached eggs and Parmesan cheese.

Casserole dish of acquacotta maremmana, a thick, slow-cooked stew of vegetables, poured over a slice of stale bread with poached eggs on top

Similar to shakshuka, this Italian riff on a classic dish of slowly cooked eggs sunken in sauce of some sort features a rich onion and tomato broth and a slice of Tuscan bread at the bottom of each bowl. Comforting at breakfast, lunch, dinner, or anytime of day.–Angie Zoobkoff

Acquacotta

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 4
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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds, 3 ounces fresh, ripe tomatoes or 1 pound 12 ounces (800 grams) canned whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 3 yellow onions (26 oz)
  • 1/2 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 freshly chopped red chile pepper or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
  • 4 cups store-bought or homemade vegetable stock or water
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 slices day-old Tuscan bread (or any crusty white loaf of bread; if your bread is freshly, gently bake it in a low oven until dry but not browned)
  • About 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese

Directions

  • 1. If you’re using fresh tomatoes: Set a medium pot filled with water over high heat, and bring to a boil. Fill a medium bowl halfway with ice water. Using the tip of a sharp knife, make a small cross on the bottom of the ripe tomatoes. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the tomatoes and plunge them into a bowl of ice-cold water until cool enough to handle. The tomato skins should be very easy to slip off. Chop the tomatoes into quarters and remove the watery seeds. Toss the seeds and skins into the compost. Chop the rest of the tomatoes into dice and set aside. If you’re using canned tomatoes, dump them in a large bowl and use your hands, a wooden spoon, or a potato masher to break them up.
  • 2. In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven set over low heat, warm the oil. Add the onions and celery along with a good pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • 3. Increase the heat to medium, add the white wine, and simmer until slightly reduced, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • 4. Stir in the tomatoes. Add another pinch of salt and the chile, if using. Pour in half the stock or water and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and let it cook gently slowly, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The liquid should reduce to a nice, rather thick consistency, but there should still be enough liquid to be able to poach the eggs in it. If necessary, top with the rest of the stock or water. Taste for seasoning and, if necessary, add salt or pepper. If a smoother consistency is desired, you can use an immersion blender to gently puree it a little.
  • 5. Crack 1 egg into a small bowl. Use the back of a spoon to make a small indentation in the onions and tomatoes, bring the bowl close to the surface of the simmering sauce, and carefully tip the egg into the well. Repeat with the remaining eggs, being careful not to situate the eggs too close together. Poach the eggs until the whites are cooked but the yolks are still soft and runny, 4 to 6 minutes. (Or, if you prefer your egg yolks firm, spoon some sauce over the top of the yolks.) You may need to increase the heat ever so slightly to keep the sauce gently simmering. When the eggs are done to your liking, remove the pot from the heat.
  • 6. Place a slice of bread at the bottom of each bowl. With a ladle, carefully scoop out the poached eggs one by one and place each on a slice of bread. Scoop out more sauce and ladle it around the egg. The bread will soak up any excess liquid. Sprinkle each dish with grated cheese and let it sit for a minute or two before serving.


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