Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 16, 2012

Who made the best soup?

I was invited by Heather Jarman of Sapore e Saperi to attend the final of the local Slow Food group’s competition to find the best soup made in the traditional way. Disfida Della Zuppa 2012……La Finalissima!!!!!!!!!
I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. There were 6 finalists. There was much tension in the room. The tables were set.


Places were taken and the soup arrived in numbered bowls.


The first soup arrived.


Then came the second.


And the third. We were given score sheets and had to rate each one according to aroma, taste, complexity and point out any faults, if any. This was serious stuff.

The contestants were not able to cook any soup of their choice, it had to be ‘zuppa all frantoiana’, which is a bit like minestrone, but of this area. It is based on 4 basic ingredients, beans, cavolo nero, olive oil and stale, toasted bread. Each cook can add ingredients to these, using their own recipe, or one handed down from mothers and grandmothers.

Each one had it own character and had to be sniffed, tasted and looked at very carefully before judgements were made.




They were all tasted and judged.


There was music to entertain us while we made our decisions.




More courses were served.


The contestants were introduced.


The winners were announced.


The third prize winner was at our table.


She showed me her lovely prize.


The winner was announced and Heather and I were pleased that it was the soup we had chosen.


I had a great time. There was much discussion about the ingredients and the method of cooking. It was noted that one of the soups contained zucchini, which is not in season and should not have been included. These people take their food seriously, but it was a fun night.


Be on the lookout for evenings such as this on your travels. Take a look at Heather’s website, she knows everything that is going on around here.


  1. Wonderful – what a great local experience! I love it how Italians are so particular about food and I also love their appreciation of cooking food in season- very connected to the earth.

    • That is all part of why we love being here.

  2. Absolutely delightful! I love this!

    • I feel very lucky to be involved in the local things.

  3. What a great experience, Debra! Soup is the most representative of all “slow foods” and I would say the most versatile.

    • There is nothing better than a delicious hot soup on a cold day.

  4. Italians have a way of elevating even one of the most mundane things (soup) to a point of passion. Amazing. Lucky you! Looks delicious.

    • Food is a passion here.I will never be thin.

  5. The art of living alla italiana…..I have been waiting for this report Debra. I can almost tasted those wonderful soups. You lucky thing… Great work!

    • The soups were all good. It was not easy to choose a winner.

  6. How fun for you Debra. What a treat to be invited to judge!

    • Everybody who attended was part of the judging, it was a lot of fun.

  7. The soups al look slightly different so it must have been a fun tasting. I love the way Italians celebrate food

    • Me too!! I am also happy to celebrate food.

  8. Che invidia, questa serata deve essere stata proprio bella….ciao!

  9. Sounds really, really fun, Deb–not to mention tasty. I see the numbers on the bowls. Were there more than 5 contestants?

    • There were 6 finalists and they were all good. It was hard to choose, I had to keep trying them.

  10. What a lovely event to have been part of.

    • I really like being involved in local activities.

  11. Yum! looks great, I love a good hearty soup!

    • It is pretty hard to beat.

  12. Oh, my!! I don’t know how you just did not explode with all the soup….I would not have been able to stop myself!! What a fun event to be included in – what a learning experience to have those fine chefs/cooks share their secrets to zuppa success.

    • I tried not to eat all of the soup in each bowl, but it was difficult.

  13. You lucky gal-what a great event to take part in!

    • You would have loved it.

  14. What a fabulous thing to be involved in. I do like the company of people who care about what they eat and appreciate it so much. I especially like your third picture of your muscians giving full passion to their contribution. Good food, good music, good time.

    • You really must come here one day.

  15. Fabulous to hear about people passionate about food, without being snobby. Greetings to the wonderful Heather too, when next you see her. We loved food touring with her.

    • It’s great isn’t it? I went with Heather last night to a hunter’s dinner in Casabasciana. It will be on Bella Bagni di Lucca soon. It was great fun.

  16. Loved this post. how wonderful to be a part of that Debra. If only our slow food chapter would do things like this

    • There were lots of people there having a great time. It would be wonderful to have things like this at home.

  17. The foods looks marvelous! Reminds me of a quote that goes somewhat like: “Only the wise know the art of eating.”

    • It was a fun evening….and the soup was good too.

  18. Debra, I would like your advice on the best place to stay in Brisbane in the middle of June for two nights. As I mentioned last May when we met in Lucca on Pannini Girl’s trip, my daughter is at uni there. Thank you very much.

  19. […] soup finals in Lucca and got to try some delicious soup and listen to some great folk music. Click here to see […]

  20. […] here to see the exciting finals from last […]

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