As the academic year kicks into full gear, Fellows and Residents are hard at work on their projects—and so too are the interns and chefs of the Rome Sustainable Food Project (RSFP). We spoke to RSFP Head Chef Fausto Ferraresi, who shared updates on recent activities at the RSFP—and a recipe for Tuscan bean soup.
How is the year going so far at the RSFP?
So far so good. We’re very busy. Our fall/winter interns are great, passionate people, and I’m very happy about our selection. The “orto” garden is looking terrific, and we were able to reinstall our compost bin for educational purpose. The Fellows are an incredible group this year and are already very engaged with the kitchen.
As we enter fall, how is the RSFP changing its menus, and what’s coming in season?
As you know the RSFP is by nature very seasonal. We’re now at the beginning of the brassicas such as broccoli and all the variants, cabbage, and Tuscan kale. We started using kohlrabi, the radicchio made its first appearance this week, and we’re playing with miyagawa mandarins as the first citrus of the season. That being said, climate change has influenced our routine and availability. Our farmers are still sending us vegetables that should have ended months ago, like string beans, zucchini, and eggplant.
What else is happening at RSFP?
As Head Chef, one of my goals is to make our project more visible and even influence others to follow our model. September and October are looking very prolific this year with regards to RSFP’s visibility on the Roman scene. We had one of our team members, Giorgia Lauri, representing us in a lunch preparation at the Swiss Academy. On October 11, we hosted Chef Matt Hill for a talk in the Bass Garden about sustainability and recent developments in the United States. Chef Hill was invited to come to Italy by the US Embassy and the US Mission to the United Nations to speak at FAO [the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations] about food insecurity.
From October 27 to 29, the RSFP is participating in an international gathering in Rome called the CLIMAVORE Assembly. With workshops and other events, CLIMAVORE [a UK-based organization] is bringing together cultural institutions to reimagine the role they can play to address the climate crisis, in particular by connecting cultural and artistic programs with local food infrastructures. AAR will host an “apericena” (as we call a reinforced aperitivo) for participants, and guests coming from many parts of the world will meet up at AAR for the first time. Following that, the RSFP will hold a workshop in EUR. On October 29, I’ll represent the RSFP in Campidoglio for a conversation with other CLIMAVORE partners. We’re very excited about this event.
Fausto’s Fall Recipe
Tuscan Bean Soup
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery sticks, trimmed, thickly sliced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 100g (about 4 oz) prosciutto, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 200g Tuscan kale (about 7 oz), washed and thinly chopped
- 1 liter (about 4¼ cups) vegetable stock made with the unused portions of the vegetables (or store bought)
- 400g (about 1¾ cup) cannellini beans previously soaked and cooked
- 4 slices crusty Italian bread
Start combining the olive oil with onion, celery, carrot, and prosciutto in a large saucepan, without turning on the burner. (Starting with cold ingredients will allow you to keep better control of the cooking temperature.) Once the ingredients are combined, turn on the burner and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are golden and just soft. Add garlic and stir for one additional minute.
Add cooked beans and kale, with salt and pepper.
Add the vegetable broth (or the water from soaking the cannellini beans, if you have it).
Increase heat to high and bring to a soft boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes or until reduced slightly.
Meanwhile, place bread on a baking tray and toss with extra virgin olive oil. Bake for few minutes until golden and crisp.
Place the toasted bread at the bottom of your soup bowls.
Divide the soup among bowls.
Finish by pouring a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil on top and adding freshly cracked black pepper.