I made eternity soup the other day with my friend, Pasadena author Greg Critser. His new book about the science (and the eccentric scientists) behind anti-aging – called Eternity Soup – was inspired by research on a true Renaissance man. In the 1500s in Padua, Italy, Alvise “Luigi” Cornaro (1483-1566) worked out a recipe for a chicken broth/egg/whole-wheat soup that cured him of the ills of his (and our) time, ills typically caused by overeating and lack of exercise. Cornaro died at the then-astonishing age of 83, noshing on eternity soup, drinking white wine, and learning to “love this divine life.”
Greg, an investigative journalist and author of Fatland (about obesity) and Generation RX (about prescription drugs), is equally at home in the kitchen and at the UCLA bio-med library. Cornaro’s recipe, which turns out to be the perfect way to beat pre-diabetes and a host of other aging-related diseases, sent Greg on a two-year quest to discover the state of current anti-aging medicine. His book explores the three schools of thought — caloric restriction, bio-engineering and hormone replacement — and details his alarming and hilarious adventures in the world of longevity: conferences of testy, underfed scientists, docs pumped up on hormone cocktails, and a tipsy, brilliant Cambridge don. Eternity Soup is as acerbic and informative as Greg himself; Jonathan Gold says “the book has scarcely left my side.”
Plus, Eternity Soup contains about six variations on Cornaro’s classic recipe. They are witty (one ends, “kiss the kitchen maid”) and delicious. Here’s what we made in the middle of a recent rainstorm, when thoughts of eternity were accompanied by thunderclaps, lightning and hail – surely also the stuff of eternity!
ETERNITY SOUP ALLA CUCINA PASADENA
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 leeks, rinsed and sliced
2 tsps. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups turkey broth, preferably homemade (can substitute chicken)
3 generous slices whole wheat bread
4 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Saute garlic and leeks in 1 tsp. olive oil in large saucepan. Add broth and, if strong (like mine!) add 1/2 cup water. When broth boils, shred bread into broth (I used week-old cereale from Il Fornaio). Reduce heat to simmer.
In a separate pan, poach two eggs to taste. Ladle soup into two bowls, carefully slide one egg on top of each, sprinkle each with 2 tsp. Parmesan and top each with 1/2 tsp. olive oil.
Accompany with Trader Joe’s Organic Cranberry Green Tea for antioxidant power, though Cornaro preferred white wine and seemed to do just fine with it.
Magnifico! And I wanted to kiss the cook when it was done – but I’ll have to settle for his book signing at Vroman’s.
Eternity Soup was published on January 26 and is available at Vroman’s and online. And Greg Critser will be at Vroman’s on Tuesday, February 16 at 7 p.m. to talk about his adventures in eternity.