Friday, February 26, 2010

Via Piantarose 7, or My Life in Perugia

As many of you know, I studied abroad in Italy in the fall of 2008. It was hands down the best experience of my life, thus far. I had the most amazing time, had some incredible experiences, and met some truly fantastic people. I lived for fourth months in a city called Perugia in a little apartment at via Piantarose 7.

Perugia is the capital of Umbria and is smackdab in the center of the country. It's home to the Perugina chocolate factory, Fontanna Maggiore, a Roman Aqueduct, Dempsey's Irish Pub, and Pizzeria Pompeii. And, as you can see, it's absolutely gorgeous. I think I'm going to do a series about Perugia and my life there, because there's way too much to include in just one post. For now, I'll start with soup.

For anyone who's been to Perugia during the winter, you know just how miserable it can be. It d
oesn't really snow in Perugia. It rains - A LOT. It doesn't actually get that cold in Perugia, but the cold it does's that wet cold that seeps into your bones. That damp cold where no matter what you do you just can't seem to get warm. Two of my roommates, Krystal and Erica, shared a huge bedroom that became like our little living room. I can't even tell you how many times I wandered in there wearing sweatpants, two pairs of socks with slippers, multiple sweatshirts, a scarf, a hat, and mittens, and curled up on Krystal's bed, moaning, "I can't get warm!" We lucked out on our apartment (more on that later!) and had the greatest kitchen where we cooked every night and ate dinner together around our little table.

One of the ways we tried to combat the damp, Perugian winter was by making vast amounts of homemade soup.My adventure into soup-making began when I had a hard time finding canned soups at the markets and grocery stores, and the soup that I did find I didn't really like.
I LOVE soup - I went through a phase as a child where it's literally all I ate - so you can imagine my frustration. One particularly cold, rainy day I got home from class and decided, what the hell? I'm making my own! I ran to a little market and bought all the fresh veggies I could find and set out to make my first batch of soup. And it was pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. We made soup about once a week and over time I perfect the recipe for what I've started calling "Perugian Vegetable Soup."

I wasn't feeling that great earlier in the week (and the cold, rainy weather here in Boston was very reminiscent of a Perugian winter), so I decided to make a big batch of soup. I start with potatoes, onion, carrots, celery, and garlic.
Then I throw everyone into the pot with some butter and lots of salt and pepper.
I saute them until they're tender, then I add in whatever other veggies I want (corn, peas, mushrooms, etc.) and my secret ingredients :)

Add in about 8 cups of water, and more salt and pepper to taste.

Then I let it simmer for about 10 minutes so all of the flavors can blend together. Sometimes I add chicken, but I just didn't have handy this time. I should mention the fact that I only know how to make this soup in huge quantities, but I separate into Tupperware containers and it keeps great in the fridge. I end up eating soup for like a week! I boiled some plain egg noodles and added them in the soup to make the perfect dinner. I also toasted up some ciabatta in a pan with some olive oil to dip in the soup. YUM!

The perfect comforting - and nostalgic - meal for a cold, rainy day. Buon appetito!

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