Here is one of my favourite dishes from Tuscany, the cookbook I shared with you on my blog. This recipe comes from the province of Lucca. This is such a wonderful soup to share with friends (this recipe will serve 6) – just add some Tuscan bread or ciabatta and some crisp White wine, such as a Pinot Grigio, and you have a meal to remember!!
I have replaced the clams with mussels which also work very well in this dish. I l cook the mussels separately and when ready, add them to the soup with the prawns to heat through.
Pancotto Di Viareggio
8-10 slices Tuscan bread
200g (7oz) live clams
100ml (scant ½ cup) olive oil
10 cloves garlic, peeled
½ dried red chilli
1 tablespoon tomato purée (paste)
175ml (¾ cup) dry white wine
500g (1lb 2oz) tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
400g (14oz) cleaned squid, cut into rings
1.5 litres (6¼ cups) fish stock
400g (14oz) prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Tear the bread into pieces, put it into a bowl, pour in water to cover and let soak for at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, scrub the clams under cold water and discard any with broken shells or that do not shut when sharply tapped with a knife. Slide the blade of a small sharp knife between the shells of a clam on the side opposite the hinge, then run the tip of the knife all the way around the shells. Run the knife round the top inside edge to separate the meat from the top shell and pull up the top shell. Run the blade around the bottom shell to separate the meat and snip off the shell. Repeat with the remaining clams. (You can get your fishmonger to do this for you).
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the garlic cloves and chilli and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for a few minutes, until lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and discard. Mix the tomato purée (paste) with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl and add to the pan, then pour in the wine. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, clams and squid. Squeeze out the liquid from the bread, add to the pan and mix well. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently and gradually adding the fish stock, for 30 minutes.
Add the prawns (shrimp) and parsley and cook for one more minute. Season to taste with salt and remove the pan from the heat. Serve the soup hot or warm.
(Thanks to Phaidon Press for permission to use this recipe and the photograph by Edward Park. This recipe can be found on p. 63 Tuscany by Phaidon press – www.phaidon.com)