St. Lucia Day Cuccia

cuccia

 St. Lucia’s Day Cuccia

St. Lucia’s Day is celebrated on December 13. It is a holiday celebrated in Sicily and Southern Italy as well as Scandinavia. In Sicily and Southern Italy, two recipes are made on this day, a soup and a custard, both called cuccia or cucia. Part of my family is from Potenza in Basilicata and this soup is from there. There are many recipes for both the soup and the custard/pudding. Some soup recipes are very basic with no seasonings or vegetables for flavoring. Some custard recipes use milk or ricotta or no dairy at all and are similar to the wheat dessert for All Souls’ Day.

According to legend, the people of Southern Italy and Sicily were starving, so they prayed to Santa Lucia. A ship arrived with plenty of wheat, but there wasn’t time to bake bread. So the people made pudding instead, and this dish became a tradition on December 13, the Feast of Santa Lucia.

Saint Lucy is the patron saint of Syracuse, Sicily, where she was born and died.  She was killed in 303 during the Diocletian persecution of Christians. St. Lucy is the patron saint of those who are blind, of eyesight and the eyes and of the poor.  She would not renounce her Christian faith and either gouged out her own eyes or had them gouged out as punishment.  But her sight was restored.

Cuccia Soup

2 cups chick peas

2 cups whole wheat berries

2 cups corn (corn is included in the Basilicata version–I got this blue and yellow corn mix from Whole Foods)

2 cups lentils

diced carrots

diced celery

olive oil

salt and pepper

2 bay leaves

crushed red pepper

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

water

The night before, soak the chick peas and the wheat berries in water (in separate bowls). Drain them. Combine all ingredients in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 4 hours. Add water as necessary during cooking.

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