January 2023 Cooking Challenge – Italian Soup

Our Cooking Challenge Overview

This is our first month of the 2023 Monthly Cooking Challenge and we’re focusing on Italian Soup as a main course. Each week we’ll bring you different recipes to experiment with and learn from. This month we’re going to have an appetizer, main course, desert, and cocktail. We started with the appetizer, and now we’re moving on with the Main Course. If you remember from our January Introduction post, this course is the Secondo. You can learn more about the 2023 Cooking Challenge on our introduction post and see other posts related the January theme of Italy here.

Main Course – Secondo: Italian Soup

We know everyone associates Italian food with pasta and pizza, so we decided to focus on soup to show some variety in Italian cuisine. Being that it’s January, a nice bowl of warm soup always brightens up a cold, grey January day. Italian soups are a traditional part of Italian cuisine and can vary widely in terms of ingredients and preparation. There are a variety of soups and the ingredients can include beans, pasta, a variety of vegetables, rice, potatoes, meats, and herbs and spices.

We’re going to give you three recipes to try in this Cooking Challenge. Ribollita Soup, Wedding Soup, and a vegan Sangette pasta recipe that includes homemade pasta, chickpeas, and fried sweet peppers.

Recommendations for Italian Soups


Use fresh vegetables for your soffritto. What’s “soffritto” you ask? The soffritto is similar to the mirepoix in French cooking, however, soffritto is less strict in the ingredients. In Italian cuisine, a soffritto is a base mixture of finely chopped aromatic ingredients that is used to flavor a variety of dishes, particularly soups, stews, and braises. The ingredients in a soffritto can vary, but it typically includes a combination of onions, celery, and carrots that are sautéed in oil or butter until they are soft and fragrant. The soffritto is often the first step in preparing a dish, and the other ingredients are added to the pot once the soffritto has been cooked.

One final item to remember, Soffritto and Sofrito are not the same. Soffritto is the Italian version and Sofrito (single “f” and single “t”) is the Spanish version. They are also both similar to the Cajun Holy Trinity. Learning about these bases (not basis you silly accountant) can help with many types of food. Learn more from Serious Eats.

Just like in the Appetizer post, you need to use a good olive oil. Sometimes you can make the soffritto with a regular olive oil and then add the extra virgin olive oil at the end for extra body, but make sure to use good olive oil.


In the January Cooking Challenge list of recipes below, the last one calls for making your own pasta using Semolina Flour and 00 Flour (Double Zero). The Semolina Flour is a courser grind of the wheat while the 00 Flour is a very fine grind. In our house, we use the 00 Flour in a lot of our pasta and breads, although we also substitute All Purpose Flour when it’s not available. We don’t use the Semolina as much, but it is very handy to have in the pantry. In addition to using it in pasta, you can sprinkle it under your pizza dough to keep it from sticking to the cooking surface. I have a hard time finding both flours in our local markets so I buy it on Amazon. Here are some links to help you out.

00 Flour – Antimo Caputo Chefs Flour 2.2 LB (Pack of 2) – Italian Double Zero 00 – Soft Wheat for Pizza Dough, Bread, & Pasta

Semolina Flour – Caputo Antimo Di Grano Duro Rimacinata Semolina Flour – All Natural Dough for Fresh Pasta, 2.2 lb

Cooking Challenge: Italian Soup Recipes

Here is your January Cooking Challenge for Italian Main Course: go make some soup.

We have included a few recipes for you to use in this challenge. However, feel free to use any recipe you want. Once you’ve made it, take a picture and share it on social media. Please make sure to tag #AccountantsWhoCook and @AccountantsCook so we can find it!

Ribollita Soup

Ribollita is a traditional Tuscan soup and is thought to have originated as a peasant dish, made with ingredients that were readily available and affordable. This hearty and nourishing soup has been enjoyed in Tuscany for centuries and has become a beloved and iconic dish of Tuscan cuisine. It is often served as a starter or main course at restaurants and homes throughout the region.

The name “ribollita” means “reboiled” in Italian because the soffritto is cooked down and then rehydrated with water or broth. It starts with a soffritto of onion, carrots, and celery and then a base of stale bread and beans are added. Cheese rinds can be added to for extra flavor and creaminess.

Demonstration of making Ribollita Soup

Here is another easy recipe to try from the Food Network’s Ina Garten.

A picture of Ribollita Soup for the Cooking Challenge - Italian Soup.

Italian Wedding Soup

This is one of my favorite soups to make and to eat. It’s very simple and full of flavor.

Making your own meatballs for this soup is great, but we don’t always have time for that on a weeknight. One quick-tip is to use Italian Sausage instead of meatballs. We’ll take a few links of sausage and cut it into small sections that we roll into marble sized balls.

There is a debate on how this soup came to be called Italian Wedding Soup in the English language. Some people swear that it is because the soup is served at weddings. Guess what, that’s most likely not the answer! You can read more about that here.

OK, now let’s look at the ingredients, The soup is based on small meatballs floating in a flavorful broth with some green vegetables and small pasta. You usually see it made with acini de pepe (tiny little balls of pasta that look like pearled couscous) or dittalini, but you can use whatever small pasta you have available. I think even an elbow macaroni would be fine.

This video shows you how to make Italian Wedding soup. The video description on YouTube includes the ingredients and recipe.

If you prefer a printed recipe, here it one from Once Upon a Chef.

Sangette Pasta, Chickpeas & Fried Sweet Chili

This recipe is an example of a vegan preparation for an Italian soup. I intentionally wanted to include a vegan option for our accounting friends who don’t eat meat. Twyla, this one is for you. I also wanted to include a traditional recipe from my home region of Abruzzo, and this one comes from Life In Abruzzo.

One thing to know about recipes from rural Italy is that many of the dishes are passed down from families that were subsistent farmers. These contadini were poor and their diets frequently didn’t include meat (because they couldn’t afford it). They used vegetables, herbs and spices to enhance the flavor and added beans or bread to create a creamy texture.

This recipe includes instructions for making your own vegan pasta (called Sagnette) using flour, water, and a dash of salt. You will need 00 (double zero) flour and Semolina Flour. Cooked pasta can turn out differently when used in a soup. I’m not sure if you can substitute All-Purpose Flour in this recipe if you want the pasta to maintain it’s texture once you cook it.

Here is your link to the recipe Vegan Abruzzo Sagnette, Chickpeas & Fried Sweet Peppers.

Italian soup called Vegan Abruzzo Sagnette, Chickpeas and Fried Sweet Peppers.

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One response to “January 2023 Cooking Challenge – Italian Soup”
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