This soup originated in the port of La Spezia in Liguria and means ‘mixed’ in local dialect.  Ingredients include chickpeas, cannellini beans, cereals and grains, and I also use a mix of buckwheat and barley. 

The soup was created one day when there was a shortage of beans and grains to make ‘fagiolata’.  Bread and all the leftover grains were mixed together with the final addition of chickpeas.  Times were hard and port workers and their wives collected spillages that resulted from damaged food sacks while there were being loaded off  the ships. The result was this most delicious, wholesome soup that was ideal during cold winters.

You will need:
300g cannellini beans
300g chickpeas
200g barley
100g buckwheat
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dical House Orangic Apple Vinegar by Bio Rinatura
Some fresh sage leaves
A bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
A stock cube (natural, no additives)
Sea salt and some freshly ground pepper

If you are using dry pulses, soak the chickpeas and cannellini beans overnight in cold water.  If you are short of time you can cook them unsoaked and add 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda to the water once it starts to boil.  You can also used canned beans and chickpeas but I prefer the flavor of the dried ones.  When they are cooked through, strain the liquid and keep aside.

Rinse the barley and buckwheat until the water starts to appear clear.

In a large pot add half the olive oil and warm on low heat. Add the crushed coriander seeds, bay leaf and sage leaves.  Dissolve the stock cube in 150ml water and add to the pot.  Stir, then add the barley and cook on low heat.  Add the chickpeas and cannellini beans.  Stir then add the buckwheat. When it softens up, season with salt and pepper.

La Mesciua is served with olive oil and lots of black pepper.

You can follow Lea’s blog on www.goodfoodeveryday.wordpress.com and watch her cook on TVM2. More of her recipes can be found on www.timesofmalta.com.

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