Zuppa Di Patate E Carciofi Della Campania

I found the recipe for this soup in an old collection of traditional farm recipes lent to me by a friend who lives in Campania. The area, which includes the amalfi Peninsula, Naples, Pompei, and Herculaneum, is a gorgeous stretch of rustic landscape punctuated by sophisticated cities and small towns. This soup is a culinary reminder of Campania. Its texture is rustic, yet its light herbal flavor, balanced by the nuttiness of artichokes and sweet acidity of tomatoes, is sophisticated.

Try a light, lively white wine, such as Fiano di Avellino, alongside.

1 lemon, halved

4 large artichokes

3 pounds waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

3 medium onions, cut crosswise into thin slices

12 ounces ripe tomatoes (about 5 small), peeled, cored, and quartered

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ to ¾ teaspoon dried oregano (see note below)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into a bowl of cold water. Trim the artichokes to their hearts (see box, page 42). Place them in the acidulated water for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain and cut the artichokes into ½-inch dice.
  3. Combine the artichokes, potatoes, onions, and tomatoes in a large heavy saucepan. Season with salt and pepper and about ¼ teaspoon of the oregano. Add water to cover by about ½ inch, add the oil, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until all of the vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add additional oregano, salt, and pepper as desired. With the soup uncovered, continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes more. The soup should be quite thick.
  4. Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning, and serve immediately.

Note: Dried oregano is superior in flavor to fresh oregano for nearly everything. The amount of dried oregano you use will depend greatly on its freshness, so taste as you go, being careful not to add too much. Too much oregano can destroy an otherwise wonderful soup.

6 to 8 servings

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