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From Val d'Aosta in Northern Italy, this is a characterful, whole-meal type soup made from bread, Savoy cabbage and smoky bacon baked in layers in a casserole. Use strong bread such as sourdough or even rye – the staler the better. Traditionally this is made with Fontina cheese – use it if you can, but Gruyère is a lot easier to find.


  • 6 large slices stale sourdough bread from a large round loaf, cut in half (or similar), lightly toasted
  • 1 Savoy cabbage, tough outer leaves removed, stalks cut out in a V-shape, leaves shredded
  • 250g Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 200g smoked streaky bacon, fried until browned
  • 1.4 litres beef stock
  • 50g butter
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 160˚C/Gas 3.
  2. In a heavy casserole dish, layer the bread, cabbage, 200g cheese and the bacon in at least 2 layers, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt, as the cheese is salty), and finishing with a layer of bread.
  3. Pour over the stock. Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese. Dot with the butter.
  4. Bake for about 45-60 minutes, depending on your oven, until golden brown (finish under the grill if you need to).
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