This is another recipe from my new favourite cookbook, Cucina Povera, although it’s so simple you hardly need a recipe at all. All you need are caramelized red onions, beef stock, some day-old bread and cheese. This soup, carabaccia, in Italian (just about everything sounds better in Italian), may be the precursor to the more-famous French onion soup, but feels much lighter because the pecorino isn’t as heavy as Gruyère. It makes an excellent first course or light lunch.
Carabaccia (onion soup)
Adapted from Cucina Povera, by Pamela Sheldon Johns
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds red onions, sliced very thinly
6 cups beef or veal stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 thick slices of Italian bread, toasted
2 1/2 cups pecorino cheese, coarsely grated
Set your oven to 400 F.
In a large pot over medium heat add olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and reduce heat to low. Cook the onions for 20-30 minutes until they are caramelized, stirring regularly.
As the onions are cooking heat the beef stock in another pot. When the onions are caramelized, add the stock, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Place a slice of toasted bread in each of four oven-proof soup bowls. Place the bowls on a cookie tray, add the soup and top with 1/4 of the cheese. Place the tray in the oven for 5 minutes and bake until the cheese has browned and formed a crust.