We’re Cooking: Südtirolean Wine Soup with Cinnamon Croutons

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A few months ago I visited the simply stunning wine region of Alto Adige, Italy or Südtirol if you are one of the many German speaking inhabitants of the area. I fell in love. Every green and lush landscape was beautiful, every vineyard was lavish and inviting, and every person was welcoming and gracious. And the wine….oh, the delicious wine.IMG_5174

The food was hearty, lots of sausage and cured Speck ham with bread dumplings, or Knödel as it known locally, with butter based sauces. Each dish pairing perfectly with the mineral rich, high acid and very fresh white wines of the region, like Pinot Bianco, Gruner Veltliner, Sylvaner, and a dozen more, as well as the Schiava and Lagrein reds of Alto Adige.

One dish in particular sent me over the moon, this light and airy yet decadently rich and complex soup, paired with a fruit filled, elegant white from the region shows how elevated simple dishes can be when made with love. Traditionally the soup, often served in a large bread bowl as pictured above, is paired with Pinot Bianco, a white wine that often is a bit flabby and uninteresting, however in Alto Adige, with its high elevations, diurnal temperature swings and steep sloping hillsides, the perfect conditions are created to grow interesting and aromatic white that are elevated with distinct character and flavor.

j hoff pinot grigioFor my dinner, however, we did a little experiment, making this dish for friends at a dinner party with the goal to show how special Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige is. Though often overly fruit forward and overly juicy when produced in other regions, Alto Adige Pinot Grigio blends steely minerality and bright acidity with herbal and floral notes, along with just the right amount of juicy fruit layers to create an interesting wine in the best possible way. We paired one from J Hoffstater, a producer that also made my favorite Pinot Noir from the trip filled with ripe berry and cherry flavors with just a hint of earthiness and spice notes.

 

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Recipe :
Südtirolean Wine Soup with Cinnamon Croutons
Ingredients:  (Serves 8)
6 cups chicken stock
1 shallot, minced
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup dry white wine (preferably from the region. We used the Pinot Grigio.)
Salt and pepper
Cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice
3 tablespoons butter
4 slices day old bread, cut into 1 inch cubed
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Preparation:
Add the shallot to a ditch oven over medium heat with 1 tablespoon butter and sauté until translucent. Add the wine and reduce by 1/3. Add the stock snd bring to a boil then strain through a sieve (to remove the shallot bits) and add back to the Dutch oven off the heat. Whisk the eggs and cream together in a small bowl. Pour into the stock, whisking to incorporate. Bring heat to a low simmer and add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon,  1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and all spice and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer together for about 30 minutes to help concentrate the flavors. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat and add the bread, tossing to coat well. Add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each of the remaining spices and salt and pepper. Reduce heat a touch and continue to toss to crisp the croutons well making them crunchy and tasty. Serve the soup in deep bowls topped with a handful of croutons. We had it in bread bowls which made it that much more delightful.

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