Scampi and potato soup

Scampi and potato soup

Zuppa di scampi e patate

Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

I first heard of this classic Argentario dish one beautiful day out on the near-empty beach of La Spiaggia Lunga with our friends, Umberto and Alessandra. We took their boat out to get there – a quick zip out from Porto Ercole’s hushed port and just a little wading to reach the shore – and soaked up the sun while the conversation, inevitably, led to food. They recounted how there was once a family who would set up a bonfire on the beach every Ferragosto (the holiday of all holidays, it falls on 15 August, when most Italians are on a beach and a big family lunch is traditional). The family would cook up a pot of scampi and potato soup so elaborate that other beach-goers thought they were running a restaurant.

I’m pretty sure they must be the same people who are described in Enrico Bistazzoni and Vincenzo Sabatini’s Noi di Port’Ercole (2011), a book of memories of Porto Ercole in the old days. In the book they write of Spiaggia Lunga as one of the favourites of the portercolesi, where you can find ‘The group of thirty, forty people who pitch a tent at dawn and for lunch start with a Caldaro and finish with watermelon, with baked pasta and Fritto Misto in the middle.’

Inevitably we started discussing the recipe – Alessandra sometimes adds zucchini or strips of red capsicums, too – and I found myself salivating at the thought of this scampi soup, ladled over crisp, grilled, garlicky bread.

Usually, small scampi (scampetti) are used for this – but if you’re looking for a cheaper (though no less flavourful) version, there’s a similar traditional dish made with sardines instead of scampi, Zuppa di Sarde e Patate.


Quantity Ingredient
500g scampetti
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, 1 finely chopped, 1 whole for rubbing bread
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, stalks and leaves separated and finely chopped
125ml dry white wine
400g tinned peeled tomatoes
500g potatoes, peeled and diced into 2 cm cubes
4 slices tuscan bread, (or other crusty bread)


  1. Remove the heads and shells of the scampetti and set aside the meat and tails. In a saucepan over high heat, toast the heads and shells for about 2 minutes (no oil or anything else necessary). Pour over 1 litre of cold water, bring to the boil and turn down the heat. Let it simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, then strain. Set aside the scampi stock.
  2. In a wide frying pan, heat the olive oil over low heat and gently cook the chopped garlic and parsley stalks for 5 minutes. Pour over the wine, turn the heat up to medium and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the scampi stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil,then turn down the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes or until they are just tender, then add the scampi and the parsley leaves and cook for a further 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill the slices of bread or put in a low oven to dry out slightly. Rub with the whole garlic clove.
  4. To serve, place a slice of bread in the bottom of each bowl and ladle the soup over the top.
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