Two elements are basic to Aosta cooking: bread, the basis of the peasant diet; and the stock pot, always simmering on the back of the stove. Zuppa alla Valpelleunentze begins with a brodo, but by the time the soup is done, the brodo has practically disappeared and the word soup seems hardly appropriate. This mountaineers’ dish consists of layered bread, cabbage, Fontina and broth.
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 medium-sized cabbage, preferably Savoy
- 3 liters of brodo (broth)
- 8 oz. Fontina cheese (150g), sliced thin
- 1/2 C. Parmigiano Reggiano, grated (100g)
- 4 T. butter (60g)
- S & P
- 10 slices hearty, rustic bread, toasted and crusts removed
Sauté the onion and garlic in 2 T. of butter over med/low heat until translucent; reserve.
Cut the head of cabbage in quarters; cut out and discard the core. Slice the cabbage into thin strips and rinse in cold water. Bring 1 liter of the broth to a boil, add the cabbage and cook until al dente, not mushy. Season with a liberal amount of salt and freshly ground pepper.
Line an ovenproof dish with a layer of toasted bread slices, cover with a layer of cabbage, then a layer of slices of Fontina cheese and a sprinkling of Parmigiano cheese. Repeat until all the ingredients are used, finishing with a top layer of cabbage. Pour the rest of the stock over all, sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano and cover all with melted butter. Bake for about an hour in a moderate oven. Serve hot.