Acqua Cotta is a peasant soup made from garden vegetables, water, and often with an egg poached in the resulting vegetable broth. Sometimes stale bread is used to thicken the broth to give the dish more body. Olive oil can also be part of the dish.
There are many variations in Acqua Cotta, depending upon what’s available in the garden at the time it’s being made.
The construction of this dish is simple, a product of Cucina Povera (although likely with a smaller volume of vegetables), so there are also many stories of how it all began. Some say it comes from Butteri, the “cowboys” of the Maremma in Tuscany. The Acqua Cotta in the picture is a variation called Acqua Cotta della Tuscia found famously in Provincial capital Viterbo in northern Lazio. Tuscia is the area inhabited by Etruscans in northern Lazio and southern Tuscany. In Viterbo’s restaurants, the poached egg on top is optional.
When the dish is found in America, it is often gussied up with a meat broth and grated cheese.
Acqua Cotta is celebrated in the month of June in the town of Oriolo Romano, with food stalls, theater, and music.