It's the season for soup...super soups. And I couldn't think of one better to start with than one of my favorites prepared by mia amica Restituta Somma of La Sibilla. It is always a big hit during visits to her family's winery.
The recipe is made with cicerchia, a legume that even the ancient Romans used. The Campi Flegrei version has a small, angular shape and is anywhere from grey to a dark brown color. If not for families like the Di Meos and Slow Food Campi Flegrei, this delicious bean may have slipped into oblivion.
Soak the beans overnight. Past generations would add ashes from the fireplace to help soften up the beans. Today the Di Meos use baking soda. The next day, rinse well and cook in an abundant amount of water until they are cooked well, but not too soft. Cooking times vary depending on the season, soaking time, and pot used.
Prepare the soup by sautèing diced guanciale di maile (pork cheek), celery, carrots, onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes in olive oil. Add the cooked cicerchia and a few tomatoes. Let cook for about an hour.
Serve with toasted cubes of day old bread, caserccia style. And of course serve with a glass of Piedirosso or Rosè from Campi Flegrei!