By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:
It's that time again—even here in Italy where Halloween has finally taken root. Even though this yearly celebration is certainly a true American import, its very spirit traces back to Europe, with its deepest roots originating from the Celtic celebration to mark the end of harvest season with the festival of Samhain.
Here in Italy, our holidays of Ognissanati, or I Santi (All Saints' Day), celebrated on November 1, and Il Giorno dei Morti, or I morti (All Soul's Day), celebrated on November 2, are days to remember our loved ones who have passed on. On these days, people go to mass, spend time with their families, and fill the local cemeteries with fresh flowers. During my childhood here in Firenze, Halloween was not something I ever celebrated—but times have changed, and with the influence of American film and television, Halloween has come into fashion. And, being a little witchy myself, that is just fine by me.
I posted this first recipe last year during the Halloween season, but I love it so much I just had to share it again. The "Witch's Soup" recipe is something I concoct every year in my Florentine cauldron to conjure goodwill and remember those I love who have, in the immortal words of that handsome Matthew McConaughey,"moved on."
The Winter Witch Cauldron
A glass of full-bodied red wine
1 tsp. sugar
A pinch of nutmeg
1 bay leaf
Heat wine in a cauldron with all the ingredients, but do not bring to a boil—the alcohol doesn’t have to evaporate. If you are feeling over-the-top and have access to magic stores, serve this heady brew in decorative skulls!
I love this pretty, delicious soup, and I love to serve it in the pumpkin! It is a very old recipe you can cook for Halloween.
1 whole fresh pumpkin (3–4 lbs) 3 cups half & half
2 celery stalks, diced 1 large yellow onion, diced 1 carrot, diced 1/4 cup chopped parsley 3 tablespoons butter 8 cups chicken broth Salt and pepper Dash of cayenne Croutons
Clean out pumpkin to use as a serving bowl. Cut pulp into small cubes.
Brown celery, carrot, and onion in butter. Set aside.
In a large soup pot, heat broth with salt, pepper, cayenne, and parsley.
In a food processor, purée pumpkin, half & half, browned vegetables, and 1cup broth.
Add purée to boiling broth. Stir and simmer for 20 minutes.
Pour soup into cleaned pumpkin. Garnish with parsley and croutons.
Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup, Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), and Superfoods, Ippo is currently finishing her latest work, The Lords of Florence (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).