Ancient Sicilian Fisherman’s Soup: Zuppetta di Gamberi

gamberiOur grandparents knew best – you should always listen to your Nonni. My maternal grandfather was a fisherman and from him, I came to appreciate the wealth of seafood available in the Mediterranean Sea but also learned reserves of maritime knowledge I will share with you over time. I don’t know about you, but our entire family was hit by this terrible flu {the “bug” as they call it} and we recovered speedily thanks to the ancient Sicilian fisherman’s soup we call: Zuppetta di Gamberi.

Research has proven that seafood improves intelligence and cognitive skills, that it’s one of the best natural aphrodisiacs available and – I want to add to this – that it contains potent beneficial effects on our overall health and well being. If you are feeling down due to the winter blues or are suffering from the common cold, I highly encourage you prepare this amazing “zuppetta” or soup.

The simplest, healthiest ingredients: shrimp, onions, tomatoes, parsley, a pinch of salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes, olive oil, enough water to cover the shrimp as it’s simmering (this will be your “liquid” for the soup). Let boil until shrimp is cooked and “floats” to the top. In a separate pan, prepare pastina (small pasta generally used for children or soups) or spaghetti (to be later chopped finely) or any other kind of small pasta you like that can be used in a soup.

Once the pasta is cooked, divide into soup cups/bowls and pour some of the “liquid” and shrimp for each serving. Sprinkle some parmigiano on top as you serve hot. Please report back to me if you enjoyed it…wish you a speedy flu recovery and, certainly, no more blues.

 Francesca Mignosa

Francesca Mignosa
Francesca Mignosa
Francesca V. Mignosa is the Author of "My Sicily" (USA, September 2012). You can purchase the book or follow the Author's booktour, reflections, photos and thoughts on Sicily, the Sicilian-American culture, writing and much more on her: Blog: Francesca organizes group and personalized travel to Sicily and Italy.

Related Articles


  1. My sainted mother made a similar meal three times a week. in dialetto she called it “zuppa di pesce.”it was billed as “brain food”, but who cared about that… it was flat out delicious. to buy imposter versions of mom’s soup today runs between $30 and $40 dollars. not as tasty as moms, but it still makes me shallare.
    I loved this article both in terms of nostalgic value and because of its practical culinary tips. Brava!

  2. With the exception of the red pepper flakes (which I always use), my Sicilian/American mother made a very similar “zuppa di pesce” using shrimp. But because my maternal nonni (also my paternal nonno) came from Erice, she used couscous instead of pasta and added a couple of shaved (or grated) almonds, as she was taught by my grandmother. That’s how I make it and it’s always a hit with everyone, even my Italian-born, but non-Sicilian, friends. Delizioso!

  3. Hi. asked whats on in Palermo and got you. reading the recipe of Zuppetta di Gamberi made me think of the fun I have cooking the creatures I get during the Summer months out in the Bay . Lobster Crab Seatrout Plaice and Mackerel are all available and I love experimenting with whatever is available and cheap good quality ingredients . Oh I forgot I also have 45 year old Natives or Belon Oysters, fabulous eating or fried .Gigas are just not as nice to my palet.
    Now to my point of writing , when I saw OLD FISHERMAN Recipe , i catch some rubbish including green crabs on the sub littoral line of the shore and these I cook up in a boullion smash then and strain the liquor . This i can use as a fine Stock for Chowders Bisques and SoupsLast May I was at the Cookery Class at Nicolettas , at Palazzo Lanza Tomasi in Palermo . It was interesting to learn a little of Sicilian love of Seafood that tasted so like our own here .

Comments are closed.

Stay Connected

Digital nomads? Time off? Retiring? Here your place.. in Sicilyspot_img

Latest Articles