The Soup of Tarlati

by Jacopo Mariutti

The Soup of Tarlati, the recipe of the Warrior Bishop

The soup of Tarlati is certainly one of the most popular and appreciated culinary preparations in Arezzo. Its introduction into local gastronomy seems to be due to Bishop Guido, lord of the city in the Fourteenth century.
Like many other traditional recipes, this is shrouded in a halo of mystery: when a dish passes from mouth to mouth and from generation to generation the original recipe is lost and something is always added.

Who was Guido Tarlati? He was member of the noble Tarlati family. Guido, who was first bishop and then lord of Arezzo until his death, was born in Pietramala . His lordship was certainly a prosperous period for the city which, in the first decades of 1300, increased its prestige and its influence in central Italy. We can imagine that the Bishop Lord had many cooks at his service. Perhaps, one of these cooks invented the soup which was then so loved  by his lord or, perhaps, it could have been the same Guido to import this dish in Tuscany.


La zuppa del Tarlati

The resemblance with la soupe à la reine

We must admit that the Soup of Tarlati is very similar to a French recipe: la soupe à la reine. The ingredients are the same… a soup based on chicken and broth made velvety thanks to a roux of butter and flour. It may be from Bishop Tarlati who visited the papal court in Avignon, or it may be that a cloth merchant or a cardinal brought the recipe from France to Tuscany.

The soup could be born in Arezzo and then brought to France by a papal delegation. The hypotheses can be many and you really cannot tell which one is the right one. Undoubtedly this recipe has spread in Europe, and  it is probably also mentioned with the name of White Soup in Pride and Prejudice

Maybe, they did not use chicken in the Middle-Ages and they made it with pheasant or capon. Undoubtedly it was recognized as a very tasty and restorative dish.


La zuppa del Tarlati

The recipe of the soup of Tarlati

The main ingredient is obviously chicken because it is used to prepare the broth and then the chicken itself is used in the soup. It starts with a roux of butter and flour to which is added shallot, carrot and celery.
At this point the meat of the finely chopped chicken is added and blended with a bit of white wine. Pour the broth and blend everything until you get a thick soup to which you then add the shredded chicken breast, add a bit of salt and it is served in large bowls accompanied by golden toast.