Sicilian soups and stews: all the ways to enjoy traditional hot dishes
Every cuisine has its hot dishes to warm up in the colder seasons!
And, as with any culinary tradition, there are soups and stews in Sicilian cuisine that are either ancient in origin or more recent, but all capable of bringing the authentic taste of tradition to the table.
Each recipe is extraordinary in its own way and, depending on the ingredients used and one’s personal taste, acquires different qualities of flavor and texture.
This article is a journey into the world of hot dishes, stews and Sicilian soups that warm the heart and the palate, and become true one-dish meals for lunch or dinner at home with those you love. We will guide you through the history and preparation of typical Sicilian soups, from the simplest prepared with seasonal vegetables to the tastiest and most flavorful.
Ready to discover them one by one?
U’ sciusceddu is an ancient dish that originated in the province of Messina, a Sicilian meat dish that is traditionally served for Easter Day but also in the colder days of the winter season becomes a real soup to be enjoyed to warm up.
It is difficult to understand what the origin of the name is. Some think it comes from the Latin juscellum meaning “soup”, while others claim it derives precisely from the Sicilian sciusciare (literally, “to blow“), precisely because it is served so hot that in order to enjoy it without burning your mouth you necessarily have to blow it to cool it down!
U’ sciusceddu is a very rich and hearty dish. For this reason it is often served as a single dish, but it is quite simple to prepare. The main ingredients are beef, parmesan cheese, eggs, pecorino cheese, ricotta and breadcrumbs. Very important, then, is the broth: strictly hot! Here is the traditional recipe for preparing u’ sciusceddu!
Frascatuli cu’ miscaturi
“If while you are eating with taste you do not have allato a pirsona who eats with equal taste then the piaciri of eating is as if dimmed, diminished“. Thus, the well-known Commissario Montalbano, through the pen of Sicilian writer Camilleri, describes his experience with food while enjoying his dish in solitude.
Here is a traditional peasant dish that is a real antidote against the winter cold: “frascatuli cu’ miscaturi“, an ancient peasant dish, poor but genuine and very tasty.
Also known as the “Sicilian polenta“, this dish has very ancient origins, more precisely dating back to the time of the ancient Romans, who already used cereal and legume flours to prepare puls, the ancestor of polenta.
The term frascatuli comes from the French word “flasque“, literally “soft“, referring precisely to the texture of this dish. Frascatula is then seasoned with what is called “u’ miscaturi,” or a seasoning made from broccoli or seasonal vegetables.
Frascatula is very present in the Enna area. We find it in Sperlinga and Troina, where it is known by the term “piciocia“. In Enna, on the other hand, it is called “paniccia“, while in Nicosia it is called “picciotta“. The simplest version is made by softening durum wheat flour in hot water and letting it cook, stirring continuously for about ten minutes, until the desired body is obtained. In Modica it should be made with just the addition of pecorino cheese, and in Agrigento as a minestrone where, in addition to wild fennel, onion, artichoke and tomato are added.
Cassatedde a broru
Cassatedde are large half-moons prepared by mixing water and durum wheat semolina, filled with a filling of ricotta cheese, chopped parsley and cipudda a coddu, the long white onion that does not keep, but should be eaten fresh.
The mezzelune (half-moon shaped pasta) are then cooked, as tradition dictates, in chicken broth, but the broth can also be pork or fish, depending on one’s taste. Cassatedde with broth used to be prepared especially for holidays and for many guests, usually left for the next day and consumed again. It is, in fact, a dish of humble origin and peasant tradition, very simple but delicious.
The main ingredients are seasonal vegetables, cheeses, vegetables and meats with which broths and soups were prepared. In maritime localities, the peasant tradition of cassatedde became the maritime one, which involved the use of fish instead of meat.
The crescent shape was obtained by using a glass and forming, precisely, a crescent. Once filled, the edges were flattened with a fork or fingers. The cassatelle were then dipped in boiling broth and cooked for a few minutes, drained and placed on a large bowl, alternating layers of parmesan cheese with the pasta.
A’ pasta co’ maccu (broad bean macco)
A’ pasta co’ maccu or macco di fave (maccu, in Sicilian dialect) is a typical Sicilian dish perfect for the winter season! It is a soup made with fava beans, which are very popular in Sicily, creamy and wholesome that can be enriched with wild fennel or seasonal vegetables such as chard, chicory or escarole.
Originating in the areas of Agrigento, and particularly in the town of Raffadali, pasta co’ maccu is the typical dish of the feast of St. Joseph in Ramacca, in the province of Catania.
Apparently, in ancient times it was considered “the dish of good omen” and was offered by landowners at the end of the harvest to all the farmers, to celebrate the end of the work. Broad bean macco is a poor dish with the consistency of a cream, achieved by prolonged cooking of the broad beans until they completely disintegrate. It is a healthy and restorative recipe to enjoy all year round since it can be prepared with both fresh and dried legumes. It can be served as a first or main course, especially when accompanied by pasta and boiled vegetables such as chard or chicory.
Over time, the basic recipe has been enriched by numerous variations, both sweet and savory. The cuccia with ricotta cheese is certainly among the most famous, or the cuccia with milk and cocoa or the many recipes that see wheat cooked together with vegetables and legumes as in the case of the cuccia with chickpeas and beans.
Minestrone del Giovedì grasso (Fat Thursday Minestrone)
This minestrone is an ancient Sicilian recipe that originated in the beautiful town of Modica, in eastern Sicily. The ingredients include not only potatoes, broad beans and onion, but also pork lard cut into cubes.
Carnival week, especially in the Ragusano area, opens with u’ maccu lurdu, a legume-based minestrone with pork rinds added and fresh pasta made with durum wheat flour strictly by hand.
This is a typical dish of the Carnival period, which in Sicily sees other gastronomic and confectionary symbols such as the classic Carnival fritters, sfince and chiacchiere. Minestrone del Giovedì grasso is undoubtedly one of these symbols of tradition.
It is a really tasty dish that is simple to prepare, but requires some time and patience, especially to clean and cut the vegetables and meat. The main ingredients of Maundy Thursday Minestrone are potatoes, dried shelled broad beans, onions, parsley, salt and pepper, but also pork lard stripped of rind and cut into cubes.
Pasta with escarole
Pasta with escarole is a typically Sicilian soup that is very simple to prepare and very healthy. A simple dish of peasant tradition, it uses curly or plain escarole, dressed with olive oil and fresh caciocavallo cheese. A soup that, after the Christmas holidays or in the colder season, is a real panacea to lighten the body and warm up.
Pasta with escarole is typical of the city of Palermo, where it is eaten with the addition of oil and cheese to further flavor the delicate taste of escarole. The recipe steps are easy: the escarole should be washed and boiled together with the pasta and then cooked in a pan for a few minutes together with the caciocavallo cheese. A traditional, simple and very tasty recipe!
Ceci a bruriceddu and Minestra di San Giuseppe
The Sicilian peasant tradition has bequeathed many tasty dishes, especially for the winter season. One of these is precisely chickpea soup a bruriceddu, a warm, simple dish prepared with few ingredients that reveals all the authentic flavor of Sicilian peasant cuisine.
Chickpeas are versatile, rich in flavor and mineral salts, and are the perfect legumes to prepare soups, savory creams, tasty appetizers or to accompany fish dishes. They are one of the main ingredients in another important recipe: St. Joseph’s soup!
This soup comes from religious worship and, by tradition, is prepared in some areas of Sicily precisely on March 19, the day on which St. Joseph’s Day is celebrated. Minestra di San Giuseppe (St. Joseph soup) is a traditional Sicilian gastronomic recipe made with seasonal vegetables and legumes such as beans, chickpeas, lentils and chard.
Some variations also call for the addition of chestnuts, which lends a sweetish flavor to the dish. One variation of the recipe calls for the addition of grated pecorino cheese, but the important thing is that it is hot and there is plenty of raw olive oil!
A vegetable so beloved by Sicilians and that in the winter season becomes the star of soups and stews is cabbage. This recipe for stewed cabbage, strictly Sicilian style, is healthy, simple but full of flavor!
It is a dish that can be enjoyed as a main course, as a first course or as a side dish. And there are several variations of stewed cabbage, a simpler one to feel all the flavor of the cabbage and a more particular one, with sweet and sour sauce.
The traditional recipe, the simpler one, is very easy to make. Just cut the cabbage into strips and wilt it with a few cloves of garlic, a little wine and tomato paste in a pan. A little raw oil and it can be served for a tasty lunch or dinner.
Sicilian-style fish soup
Here is a tasty recipe, rich in flavor and history that fish lovers will love! This is a traditional poor seafood dish that can be enjoyed at any time of the year, but since it is a real soup it is undoubtedly a perfect dish for winter.
Sicilian-style fish soup can be served as a main course, but also as a first or second course to provide a lunch or dinner capable of telling the true flavors of the Sicilian sea.
This soup is prepared in an earthenware pot, using soup fish of your choice and cooking it with garlic, olives, tomato, a few anchovy fillets and raisins. Once cooked, simply serve it hot with plenty of broth, olive oil and freshly baked homemade bread croutons. A real treat capable of warming the heart!
Ready to prepare these hot dishes to warm you up this winter? Do you know any other Sicilian soup recipes that you would like to share with us? Leave us a comment!