Le Virtù (literally, the virtues) is an Abruzzese soup that, by definition, requires 49 ingredients and seven pots. Le Virtù was traditionally made on May 1st, combining hearty winter ingredients with the fresh spring bounty. But here’s the kicker: the soup was to be made by virgins. Seven virgins, to be exact. Seven virgins, each with a single pot of seven ingredients (seven beans, seven vegetables, seven cuts of meat, etc.).
In her canonical text on Italian food history, Waverly Root purports that the preparation of Le Virtù might require virgins because only women of great virtue could commit to a project as intensive as this. Another origin myth contends that the soup was the result of a contest to see which virtuous woman could devote the time to a dish requiring so many ingredients and so many steps.
The imitable Mark Ladner traveled to the birthplace of Le Virtù to better understand its origins and preparation. When he returned, he attempted the dish at Del Posto to delicious result. Luckily, the days-long process was documented for posterity.
Del Posto will be serving Le Virtù throughout the month of May. (No, we didn’t hire virgins to haul ingredients to Tenth Avenue. This guy does the cooking.)