Rapini Tomato Soup - (Minestra ‘I Qualazzi)
“Qualazzi”, are wild rapini. They grow in the countryside around Polizzi after the rains in early autumn until the first frost. The wild variety is thin stemmed, mostly leaves with few broccoli-like buds per stalk. Their flavor is more intense then the cultivated variety. Even so, cultivated rapini, sometimes called “broccoli rabe”, still maintain the characteristic bitter, pungent flavor of the field variety.
For this recipe, the greens are cooked until quite soft in the same pot as the pasta, and their flavor enhances the pasta. Simply prepared, this rustic soup is a wonderfully warming dish. As with many of the minestre from Polizzi Generosa, it is served with hard ricotta to grate on the top.
For 6 servings:
- 1 bunch (approx. 1 lb.) rapini
- 2 tablespoons + ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp course sea salt
- 1 lb. Ditali or Ditalini (small tube pasta)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 28 oz can Italian whole peeled tomatoes, drained
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- black pepper
- ¼ pound ricotta salata in one piece
- crushed red pepper
- Large pasta pot or soup pot.
- Measuring cup
- Sauce pan
- Clean the greens and cut away 1 to 2 inches of the thick, fibrous ends.
- Cut greens into 1 ½ lengths.
- Pour 2 tbsp of olive oil into a large pasta pot over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot add the greens.
- Turn them in the oil and immediately add 9 cups of water.
- Stir in the salt, cover and raise the heat and bring to a boil.
- Turn down the heat and gently simmer, covered for 10 minutes until quite soft.
- Uncover and turn up the heat to high.
- When the water returns to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente, approx 10 minutes.
- In a separate saucepan put ¼ cup of olive oil.
- Add whole garlic cloves and saute´ over medium-low heat until the garlic is a light golden color on all sides, about 5 minutes.
- Crush the tomatoes with your hand and stir them well into the oil.
- Stir in the sugar and black pepper (no salt).
- Turn down the heat and simmer gently for the remainder of the pasta cooking time.
- When the pasta has cooked stir in the tomatoes from the separate pot.
- Allow the flavors to mingle uncovered over low heat for at least 10 minutes.
- Serve very hot with plenty of grated ricotta salata and crushed red pepper to taste,