Cuccia - St. Lucy's Day Soup


  • 1 lb wheat
  • 1 lb Fava beans
  • 1 lb Ceci
  • 1 clove of Garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp Crushed Red pepper
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil

    Each are soaked over night, rinsed and cooked 
    separately, since they cook at different rates. 
    The wheat has a good consistency if cooked about 
    3 to 4 hours depending on if it is winter or summer
    wheat. The Fava beans take about 2 hours and the 
    Ceci takes about 1 hour. The water should be salted 
    with a teaspoon of salt. Garlic can be added to each 
    as  well as a Bay Leaf.  Crushed red pepper can be 
    added to taste. 
    After ingredients are cooked separately, they are 
    combined. Olive oil is added to form a thin layer on 
    top, about 1/3 cup. The Cuccia is then stirred and 
    served hot in a soup bowl. 
    Some towns added cooked dried peas and/or corn as well.

    The tradition goes that on December 13th, "Cuccia" is served instead of bread to commemorate the saint who brought wheat to the starving Sicilians. Other versions of the story exist, having to do with the wheat grains and the eyes of St. Lucy. Supposedly, those who ate the Cuccia and observed the tradition, would not have eye problems. In Isnello, Palermo, Sicily, the recipe called for just soaking the wheat (1 pound) over night, rinsing it off the next morning and boiling it until it was tender -- several hours! It was then served with milk and sugar -- similar to oatmeal. When Cuccia is mentioned to the older generation; their eyes light up and they always have an individual experience to share. It's a novel dish which can be enjoyed anytime and especially on the feast day of Santa Lucia.

    Submitted by:   John J. Forti 




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