Seven virtues... in just one dish

Chef Federica Scolta tells us about this traditional specialty from Abruzzo. With a classic version

Le 7 VirtĂą is a typical dish from Abruzzo with lo

Le 7 Virtù is a typical dish from Abruzzo with lots of variations (in this photo there’s also pasta). Federica Scolta, sous chef at Lord Bio in Macerata, tells us about this recipe in a classic version

«On 1st May we usually cook all sorts of legumes together, broad beans, beans, chickpeas, lentils and so on with vegetables and salted bones, ears and feet of pigs, also salted; and we call this soup Virtù...»: this is what Giuseppe Savini writes in Lessico del dialetto teramano. The chosen ingredients can vary greatly. Entering into the merits of the recipe is a complex thing: there are numerous variations. Here below we present one of the possible ones. Let’s first list the basic ingredients, though.

* dry legumes: different varieties of beans, chickpeas and lentils (to be prepared separately, in different ways);
* fresh legumes: first of all peas and broad beans;
* vegetables: courgettes, carrots, potatoes, artichokes, chards, endive, escarole, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, chicory, spinach, fennel, turnips;
* herbs and spices: garlic, onion, marjoram, sage, thyme, celery, parsley, dill, nutmeg, cloves, pepper or chilli pepper, pipirella, wild mint, borage, wild fennel, basil;
* meat: ham, pork rind, minced beef, lard, pork loin, pork feet and ears, pancetta, pork jowls, beef meatballs (also called pallottine).

Federica Scolta’s other recipe, Le sette virtù del legume [The seven virtue of legumes], the dish she presented at Premio Birra Moretti Grand Cru: click qui for more details
Federica Scolta’s other recipe, Le sette virtù del legume [The seven virtue of legumes], the dish she presented at Premio Birra Moretti Grand Cru: click qui for more details

A dish from Abruzzo, this minestrone is connected with propitiatory and pagan rituals. The "virtues" to which the name refers are those traditionally expected from a woman. According to the traditional recipe, one needs 7 different ingredients: 7 dry legumes left over from the winter supply, 7 new vegetables offered by the spring, 7 fresh legumes, 7 seasonings, 7 types of meat and 7 of pasta plus 7 grains of rice. All this should cook for 7 hours.

In the dish I presented for Premio Birra Moretti Grand Cru, which got to the finals (here’s the video-recipe), I didn’t use meat because my cooking celebrates life. I presented this ancient and inspiring dish in a modern version: with just one legume, cannellini beans, I obtained 7 virtues. Here’s my 7 Virtù recipe in a more "classic" version.

Le 7 Virtù

Ingredients (for around twenty people)
1 kg borlotti beans
1 kg tondini white beans
1 kg chickpeas
200 g lentils
100 g grass peas
2 kg fresh broad beans
1 kg fresh peas
300 g pork pancetta
mixed meat: pork muzzle, ears, legs and ham bone
200 g oil
salt and pepper to taste

Federica Scolta

Federica Scolta

Boil the legumes in separate pots until halfway down their cooking, drain them and keep them to a side. Put the ham bone and the pork cuts in another casserole filled with water, boil everything, drain the ham bone and remove the meat left on it, then strain the broth with a cloth.

Add the pork meat to the pot where you have kept the strained broth. After ten minutes add the legumes and finish the cooking. Remove from the stove, pour the soup into a serving bowl, season with salt and pepper, some nutmeg and oil. Serve with grated Grana Padano on the side.