Marcel’s Toasted Meatball Soup

The story

This is a little known recipe from the central region of Catalonia where I come from. Between the Pyrenees and Barcelona is a rural area made up of different villages, farmland and forests. This soup has a really austere origins, because it is based on a stale bread. But if you cook it with great fresh products it can be transformed into a delicious meal. Our tradition of eating it on festive days such as Christmas prove that.

The language

Marcel describes the part of Catalonia where this dish originates and the history of the recipe

  1. …the central region of Catalonia;

  2. a rural area made up of different villages, farmland and forests.

  3. This soup has really austere origins;

  4. …it is based on stale bread.

1. the central region (adjective + noun)

Here, Marcel explains the geographic location of his hometown. Be careful with the differences between central/centre, western/west, etc.

  • In the central region of Catalonia./ In central Catalonia / In the centre of Catalonia.
  • In the western part of Libya. / In western Libya. / In the west of Libya.
  • On the southern coast of Sicily. / In southern Sicily. / In the south of Sicily.

Task 1: Where do you live? What parts of the world have you travelled to?

2. a rural area (adjective + noun) made up (phrasal verb) of

Marcel gives a general description, rural, followed by more detail. This is very common, and helps paint a picture in the other person’s mind.

  • a rural area made up of different villages, farmland and forests
  • a decaying city made up of abandoned factories and run down apartment blocks
  • a beautiful region made up of rolling hills, quaint hamlets and gentlly flowing streams.

Task 2: Describe the area where you live, and another place that you have travelled to. Finally, describe your dream location to live in.

3. austere origins (adjective + noun)

When describing the history of a recipe, person or thing, it is possible to use an adjective, such as austere, or a similar word such as humble to say that it came from a simple, often poor background. Using this often emphasises that the recipe, person or thing has a strong connection with the ordinary people, and is not fancy, rich or expensive.

  • This soup has really austere origins.
  • The businessman, now a millionaire, has never forgotten his humble origins.
  • The austere origins of the other houses are very different from the new mansion.

Task 3: Which fancy dishes, famous people or expensive products from your country that have austere origins? If you can, find out how they became richer or more expensive.

4. based on (verb + preposition)

When saying that something is based on something else, it helps us to understand the major source of inspiration or the main component. It is a good way of identifying the source of something.

  • …it is based on stale bread.
  • The film is based on the novel.
  • You can search for recipes based on your food allergies.

Task 4: What are your favourite recipes based on? Are your favourite books and films based on true stories, traditional tales, or other historic origins?

The recipe

  • 300g pork mince
  • 1 onion
  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • handful fresh parsley
  • 3 slices toasted bread
  • 1l chicken or other meat stock
  • flour
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Chop the garlic and the parsley, beat the egg and mix these ingredients with the mince. Spice it up with salt and pepper. Make little balls (3-4 cm) dusted with flour and put them aside.

  2. Next, put some olive oil in a big pot and add the chopped onion and tomatoes. Cook them over a very low heat for about 30–45 min and after that, add the stock.

  3. When it boils, add the mashed toasted bread until you get the desired texture (not too thick) and use a hand blender to blend it into a sort of puree.

  4. Finally, add the little meat balls and cook them for 20 minutes in the soup.


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