June Gloom in L.A. as I see on Twitter, 50 °F (10 °C) in the Midwest and me – sick in the Northeast. If it isn’t a sign that I need to make a soup to feel better and bring warm hearty flavors in the house, I don’t know what would make me get out of bed.
There are probably thousands of recipes for the traditional rustic country-style Corsican soup depending on which village you come from, which side of the mountain you grew up on and culturally-speaking what family heritage was handed down and preserved. Every Corsican will argue that their family recipe is the best.
Some recipes have leeks and some don’t. Some add green beans while others prefer Swiss chard. Some throw in lots of charcuterie. Others just mention ham. Fettuccine vs. macaroni vs. spaghetti for the pasta. I don’t want to say my recipe is the best recipe in the world but it’s tasty, simple yet rich in complex flavors and it’s an excellent remedy when sick. And when your kitchen smells of sizzling ham mixed with basil, garlic and chervil, you know you can’t go wrong.
What’s extraordinary about Corsican soup is the fact that it looks really heavy but is very easy to digest at the same time. I’ve always found that the best Corsican soups are the ones that are thick enough to allow for your spoon to stand proud and tall in the bowl without moving or falling on the side. It’s something to see. This recipe will not make for an extra thick soup but you can always cook it longer to get rid of the left over juice. Note: this soup is even better reheated the next day.
Not having easy access to Corsican charcuterie in my area, if you can find coppa or panzetta or prisuttu, feel free to thrown them in the soup in lieu of the smoked ham.
I also found this adorable old Corsican lady making her traditional Corsican soup on YouTube (or suppa paysanna as they call it). Her recipe is somehow similar yet different than mine. Even though she speaks French and the Corsican dialect when making the soup, it’s easy to follow her. The language of cooking is international!
Corsican Soup / Suppa Corsa
1.5 cups (250 g) of red beans
1.5 cups (250 g) of white beans
0.5 lb (150 g) of green beans
2 garlic cloves
2 tomatoes + 3 oz (85 g) of tomato paste
0.5 lb (150 g) of smoked ham
marjoram + chervil
5 oz (150 g) of pasta – fettuccine
salt and pepper
The day before making the soup, soak the white and red beans in cold water – overnight.
Wash and cut all of the veggies: cut the potatoes in 4, slice up the onions, thinly slice the leeks, cut up the cabbage and tomatoes, cut the green beans in half, cut the carrots as well as the garlic cloves and slice up the zucchinis).
Fill a big pot with 8.5 cups (2 liters) of water. Add the white and red beans, half of the ham cut up in small pieces, the sliced up onions, the garlic and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 hour on medium heat – covered.
Throw in the potatoes, leeks, cabbage, zucchinis, cut up tomatoes and the tomato paste, green beans and carrots. Cook covered for another hour.
Before serving (about 10-15 minutes), throw in the pasta.
At the last minute, mix the marjoram, chervil and the rest of the ham in the soup. Taste for seasoning. Add more or less depending on your taste.
Upon serving the soup in big bowls, top with sliced up basil leaves and olive oil.