|Place of origin||Italy|
|Region or state||Emilia-Romagna, Marche, Toscana, Lazio, Northern Campania, Umbria|
|Main ingredients||Sponge cake or savoiardi, Alchermes, custard|
Recipes for this sweet first appeared in the regions Emilia-Romagna (in the towns of Modena, Parma, Bologna, Forlì, Ferrara, and Reggio Emilia), Marches, Umbria and Latium regions, in the late nineteenth century.
Its origins are uncertain; one theory states that it originated in the sixteenth century kitchens of the Dukes of Este, the rulers of Ferrara. According to this story, they asked their cooks to recreate the sumptuous "English trifle" they had enjoyed in England at the Elizabethan court, where they were frequent visitors.
To make Zuppa Inglese, either sponge cake or ladyfingers are dipped in Alchermes, a bright red, extremely aromatic Italian herb liqueur. They are then alternated with layers of crema pasticciera, a thick egg custard cooked with a large piece of lemon zest (removed afterwards). Often, a layer of crema alla cioccolata is created by dissolving dark chocolate in a plain crema pasticcera. In Italy it is occasionally topped with cream, meringue or almonds.
The word "zuppa" (soup) in Italian cuisine refers to both sweet and savory dishes. It comes from the verb "inzuppare" which means "to dunk". As the sponge cake or ladyfingers are dipped in liqueur the dish is called Zuppa. Similarly, thick fish, bean with vegetable stews, and fish or shellfish stews are properly described as "zuppa di verdure" or "zuppa di pesce".
There are other theories as to the origin of the name.
"The name translates literally in Italian as English soup and may in fact connote its similarity to English trifle. Others believe it is a dialectical corruption of the verb inzuppare, meaning to sop."
"A dessert invented by Neapolitan pastrycooks of Europe during the 19th century. Inspired by English puddings that were fashionable [sic] at the time, . . . "
"This rich dessert was among the many tributes bestowed on Lord Nelson by the grateful Neapolitans after his victory over Napoleon in the Nile in 1798. "English Soup", as it was called, was the creation of an anonymous pastry cook smitten with the admiral, the English, and their spirit-soaked Trifles."
- La Cucina del Bel Paese (883-885). La cucina del Bel Paese
- Gladys Gretton, The Englishwoman in Italy, Hurst and Blackett, 1860 (page 163).
- "Zuppa Inglese (Traditional Italian Pudding)". Academia Barilla. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
Zuppa inglese was made for the first time in the 16th century for Dukes of Este, residing in Ferrara. Legend has it that the dessert was created by the court chefs when a diplomat from Ferrara asked for a trifle, a typical British dessert made with a sweet ring cake, cream and wine, after returning from a trip to England.
- "Gelato Zuppa Inglese". Gelato in casa. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
- Olver, Lynne. "FAQs: charlotte to millet". The Food Timeline. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
- Mariani, John. Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink. New York: Broadway Books, 1998 (p. 286)
- Larousse Gastronomique, Completely Updated and Revised. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2001 (p. 1310)
- American Heritage. The Horizon Cookbook and Illustrated History of Eating and Drinking through the Ages, New York: Doubleday, 1968 (p. 710)