Brodetto soup? in Marche there are 4 variations!
If there is a dish that truly represent the tradition of the Marche's coast, that would be the Brodetto, our fish soup. A poor recipe that has ancient roots, arose from the need of fishermen to use those fish that are difficult to sell because of their low quality or because ruined by nets. When the fish was lacking, seafaring people used to add to Brodetto small pieces of rocks with mollusk and algae.
The paternity of this dish is disputed between Marche and Romagna but, it’s not real Brodetto for the Marche without Peter’s Fish, while for Romagna it’s a must to use the Tub Gurnard fish.
HISTORY AND CURIOSITY
The tradition of the Brodetto soup dates back to the period between the seventh and fourth centuries BC, with the arrival of the Greeks on the Italian coast. According to a legend, the Brodetto was invented by the Goddess Venus to appease the jealousy of Vulcan through his stomach.
There are a lot of dialect names used instead of the name Brodetto, a dish that is anything but univocal: brudetu in Ancona, brudèt in Fano, vrudètte in San Benedetto. As a matter of facts, Brodetto is declined differently depending on the city from which it originates. A variety that is not only territorial: sometimes the recipe even changes from family to family.
“There are four traditional Brodetti in Marche – explains Luca Facchini, professor at the Panzini Hotel Institute of Senigallia and coordinator of the Accademia di Tipicità – the one made in Ancona, the one made in Fano, the one made in Porto Recanati and the one made in San Benedetto”. Although there are towns - such as Porto San Giorgio and Senigallia - that have created over time other variants of the recipe. The plurality of these recipes is united by the presence of fresh fish as main ingredient! Anyway, the oldest recipe is the Ancona-style Brodetto: its recipe has remained almost unchanged over time.
“The Brodetto from Fano is prepared with so-called mud fishes – says chef Facchini – while in the Ancona area, which is influenced by the presence of the Conero promontory, there are reef fishes”. In both versions we can find tomato paste or preserves that the farmers made by boiling them in thin cans. “This type of tomato lent itself to being easily transported on small fishing boats”, as Facchini explains.
In the Brodetto from Porto Recanati, instead of tomato, they used the zafferanella, a particular type of wild saffron that grows along the waterways. “Going south, the spicy increases”, says Facchini, “and in San Benedetto, which is influenced by the Abruzzo influence, the soup is prepared by adding sweet and spicy peppers”.
Another element that deserves attention is the use of wine rather than vinegar in some Brodetti. “Traditionally, because of the poor nature of this dish”, says the Chef, “the fishermen used to prepare Brodetto with the old wine that was becoming acetic. In the past, nothing was thrown away and of course the Brodetto follows this line, even if today it was rediscovered by the starred chefs”.
Nowadays, Brodetto is prepared with different varieties of fish, among which we can find Peter’s fish, soles, cuttlefishes, crabs, scorpionfish, cods, anglers, squids and mollusks as mussels and clams. A simple dish, tasty and nutritious, but also a panacea for health, thanks to its rich nutrients.