This style of bread and cheese soup is common in the cooler alpine regions of Italy. The version in Aosta, Piedmont's neighbour, is made with cabbage and fontina, while this classic Piedmontese version, from Valli Valdesi, leaves out the cabbage and uses the region's local cheese, Toma Piemontese. Don't let that stop you from picking another Italian melting cheese, though; they'll all produce a rib-sticking result.
- 400 gm day-old white bread, thickly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, halved
- 30 gm butter, coarsely chopped
- 1 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1.5 litres (6 cups) chicken stock
- 200 ml dry white wine
- 1 tsp thyme leaves
- 300 gm (3 cups) coarsely grated
- Toma Piemontese (see note)
- 100 gm parmesan, finely grated
- 1Preheat oven to 200°C. Rub bread with cut sides of garlic.
- 2Heat butter and oil in a large casserole over medium heat, add onion and stir until softened (6-10 minutes). Transfer onion to a bowl.
- 3Meanwhile, combine stock, wine and thyme in a saucepan, bring to the boil and season to taste.
- 4Layer bread, most of the cheeses and onion in the casserole, then scatter the remaining cheeses on top. Pour on hot stock and bake uncovered, pushing bread down into stock occasionally, until cheese melts and bread is golden on top (30-40 minutes). Divide among bowls to serve.
Toma Piemontese is available from select cheese shops, such as Formaggi Ocello. If it's unavailable, substitute with another similar melting cheese, such as Fontina.