The other day we took the old Alpha out for a spin and enjoyed a beautiful autumn day - even if we live in Todi, it's been ages since we been to Assisi - so why not - but as much as Signor Francesco was the reason for the trip - the main attraction was a filling lunch at La Stalla - just outside the city walls of Assisi. Here Benito is the king, and together with the biggest fire place we have ever seen - this is a really great spot for lunch. Don't expect something fancy - we are really back to the true cucina povera - the menu hasn't changed for 60 years and the walls are totally coated in soot from the fire place, where most of the food is cooked.
The Zuppa di Polenta is the star - but we also had some really tasty bigoli - a kind of gnocchi made from ricotta - that'd the name here in Umbria - if you go to Venezia - bigoli are thick noodles...
But also probably the best baked potatoes ever - gently cooked in the embers of the fire place.
Also, make sure to have a look at the expire date - you would like the latest harvest of corn - not something that has been on the shelf for years.
For the beans - you can either go fresh - like borlotti or canelllini or dried beans, that you soak overnight and then cook.
This recipe is for around 4-6 persons and remember this is a thick - very thick soup - we are getting close to porridge.
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + extra for serving
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 sticks of celery, cut into small dice
3 tomatoes, without skin and seeds, cut into small dice
a pinch of dried chili
1 handful of fresh marjoram, leaves only
1 litre chicken stock
250 g cooked beans
80 g polenta
sea salt and black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the onion, celery and garlic for 15 minutes on medium heat without taking any color, add the tomatoes, chili and marjoram and saute for a further 5 minutes.
Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, add the beans and pour in the polenta while stirring. Cook the soup on low heat for 40-45 minutes until the polenta is cooked and has thickened the soup.
Season with salt and pepper, serve piping hot in bowls and generously drizzle some more extra virgin olive oil on top
Via Eremo delle Carceri