Baccala Soup a has great story of origin as with many traditional Italian dishes. Much is made about “The Feast of the Seven Fishes” in descriptions of the Italian Christmas holiday, and many wonder what’s with the fish? The “fish thing” began in medieval times and was religious in origin.
In the Roman Catholic faith, Christmas Eve was a day of fast and abstinence awaiting the “arrival of the bambino”. Meat and butter were not permitted – so families ate fish cooked in olive oil and so it came to pass that Italian Christmas Baccala Soup was created.
Why seven? Seven signified the seven sacraments of the Church. Many Italian families had fewer than seven, and many had as many as 10, 12, or 13!
How to prepare salted cod
- Soak the cod in enough cold water to cover it. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours (or up to 3 days). Change the water at least 5 times during that time to remove the salt.
- Drain and pat the cod pieces dry with a towel.
- Remove the skin and bones
Baccala Soup, is a lovely tomato based soup, rich in Napoletana tradition. You can almost smell the Mediterranean when you prepare it. Tasting it is nothing short of heaven! It is delicate in flavor yet substantial in nourishment and content.
Christmas Baccala Soup
- 1 1/2 lb (800 g) of already soaked cod,
- 1 lb (500 g) of ripe tomatoes,
- 3 large red peppers,
- 1 green pepper,
- 2 large onions,
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil,
- a sprig of chopped parsley,
- salt to taste,
- 1 handful of semolina (coarse ground),
- oil for frying.
- rinse the cod, remove the skin and the bones. Then divide it into not very small pieces and lightly flour them; then keep them aside.
- In a pan, wide and low, fry the onions, thin slices, and parsley.
- Add the sliced and private tomatoes of skin and seeds; add salt and thicken the sauce over a moderate heat.
- Fry the pieces of cod. They will have to be golden and crispy. Keep them aside in hot weather.
- Cut the peppers into strips and fry them in olive oil.
- Then add them together with the cod to the sauce ready and cook for 10/15 minutes.
- Serve the codfish and peppers soup with slices of toasted bread and a sprinkling of parsley.
I like to serve this over a thick slice of Italian crusty bread.