So I just got back from a long weekend in Lugano! October is one of my favourite months to visit, mainly because around that time of year the food there is mega, with an amazing variety of seasonal produce showcased in every restaurant, cafe and market around. The produce on offer is in fact so good, it’s got it’s own name to describe it: selvaggina. The word literally means game, but refers specifically to dishes made from seasonal game and wildlife hunted and foraged locally – think rabbit, wild boar, deer and pheasant. Deeeeelicious.
Wanting to take full advantage of the fruits of season, I made my way to a neighbouring town called Ascona, where Sagra delle castagne e festa d’autunno (a festival of all things chesnut and Autumn related) was going down, with 100+ market stalls selling all of the good stuff. Wild mushrooms such as porcini, galletti and pioppini, Ticinese polenta, farro, deer and wild boar cured cuts, chesnut marmalade – the works. The best part? Restaurants were serving up dishes jazzed up with all that seasonal goodness – pizza with wild board prosciutto and fresh porcini, anyone?
Having stuffed my suitcase with a ridiculous amount of meat, cheese, chocolate and whatever else I could get my hands on, I slunk through the nothing to declare exit, sweating profusely at the thought of it all being confiscated and my dreams of food heaven shattered. Luckily I made it, and went home to cook up a selvaggina inspired dish of my own.
Autumn Soup with Galletti, Pancetta and Farro
Olive oil for frying
1 white onion, finely chopped
150g pancetta, cut into lardons
1 clove of Elephant garlic, or 1 large clove of regular garlic
150g farro, rinsed
75ml white wine
1.2 litres of vegetable stock
1 handful of dried Galletti (Chanterelle) mushrooms
2 large tomatoes, seeds removed and finely chopped
A few mixed chestnut and button mushrooms
Small bunch of fresh sage, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
Parmigiano Reggiano to serve
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped to serve
Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan and sauté the onion, pancetta and garlic on a medium heat for a few minutes until the onions have softened but not coloured. Next add the farro and stir well so it’s well coated in the oil. Pour in the white wine and stir until it’s been absorbed, like you would when making risotto.
Add all of the vegetable stock in one go, followed by the dried mushrooms and tomatoes. Bring the soup to the boil and then reduce the heat, cover and leave to simmer for around 10 minutes, or until the farro is tender.
Finally, stir in the remaining ingredients and season generously. Leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes or so until the farro is cooked through yet still retains a little bite.
To serve, sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh parsley.