Bagnun (Anchovy Soup)


This one is an absolute favorite around the Ditalia table, typifying the bold, brilliant flavors of Italy’s Northeastern coast. Bagnun is one of those special dishes that grew out of convenience, a simple dish that fishermen could cobble together after a long day offshore, featuring anchovies. Fresh anchovies are essential--their perfect salinity is the key to a great bagnun.


DITALIA fine italian specialy foods Genoa Boccadasse

Boccadasse is old mariners' neighbourhood in Genoa.


Since 1960, the heritage of this beloved dish has been celebrated on the third week-end of July at the annual Bagnun Festival in Riva Trigoso, a small fishing village near Sestri Levante. The intrepid tourist willing to make the trek will be treated to generous helpings of freshly-cooked bagnun, served from the hands of grizzled seafarers clad in the blue-and-white stripy shirts now so famous around the world.

Our bagnun recipe remains faithful to the tried-and-true simplicity of the original Genoan dish. In this case, the ingredients do all the talking.


How you prepare it

  1. Clean the anchovies, remove head fishbone and entrails (or better: ask your fish seller to do it for your, he will take 30 seconds vs your 30 minutes).
  2. Finely chop the parsley with the onion.
  3. Peel the tomatoes (make a crosswise incision at the base of the tomato and dunk it in boiling water for 1 minute: the peel with go away immediately without efforts) . If you have few time use the tinned peel tomatoes. Finely chop or quickly blend them.
  4. Gently squash the garlic clove with the palm of your hand without broke it. So doing the garlic will release its aroma without melting in the sauce while cooking and you can remove it before serving.
  5. Pour 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a large pan (better if in a terracotta pan), then add the chopped parsley and onion and shallow fry for 3.4 minutes.
  6. When the garlic gets gold (it must not burn) pour the white wine and let it evaporate.
  7. Add the chopped tomatoes, then add two cups of hot water (the water used to peel the tomatoes is fine) and the leaves of basil. Season with salt and chili pepper to taste.
  8. Cook over for about 10 minutes mixing from time to time until you have a thick and flavorful sauce .
  9. Soak te anchovies one by one in the sauce and go ahead cooking for other 5 minutes, being very careful not to mix the sauce otherwise the anchovies will break apart.  The bagnun is ready!
  10. Before serving remember to put a sailor’s cracker or a slice of toasted bread in the plate to mop up the gravy! If you wish you can add extra flavor by rubbing the bread with some fresh garlic.

1 comment

Yes!!! to this soup. I know I’d love it as would several of my friends. But where do I get the fresh anchovies?

Elisabeth Price February 15, 2018

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