Soppa ta’ l-armla (widow’s soup) is a traditional Maltese vegetable soup. It will take a couple of hours to make, however it is very filling and will keep for a few days (if there are any leftovers). You will need:
1 large onion
half a dozen zucchini
2 large carrots
a handful of chopped parsley
1 can of beans
1 can tomato pulp
2 tablespoons tomato concentrate
You may also use other vegetables in season. Typically this soup will also have cauliflower, turnip and celery – however we left them out this time. As you will see it is very similar to minestra (vegetable soup) but with the addition of eggs and goat’s cheese or ricotta at the end – thus making it a well-rounded meal.
Start by chopping up all the vegetables. There is no need for them to be finely chopped.
Now fry the onions. You can add some stock, white wine or just plain water to keep them from drying out too much. You can also add a tablespoon or two of curry powder.
Start adding the vegetables, starting with the ones that need the longest cooking time. Add stock/water if the liquid in the pot starts to dry out. Finally, add the tomato pulp, tomato concentrate and sugar.
Cover the pan and lower the heat. Stir occasionally and leave to simmer for about 2 hours.
Now for the best part: About 15 minutes before serving, place a Gbejna (fresh cheeselet made from goat’s milk) in the soup. Then make a hollow amongst the vegetables with the back of a spoon, and carefully break an egg into this. Make one egg and one cheeselet per person. Cover the pot and leave to simmer. Do not stir the soup as this will break the egg. Once the egg is cooked through, serve the portions of soup, egg and cheese.
If you have leftovers, leave them in the pot. Warm up the soup and repeat the egg and cheese procedure again. This really is one of those dishes that warms you through and puts a smile on your face, even if it’s a cold, gloomy, rainy day!