For a start, there were no onions involved. What I could understand was that the soffritto was made from tomatoes, but not just any kind of tomatoes. You can't make this soffritto from an ordinary can of tomatoes or even ordinary fresh tomatoes. It was unclear what kind of tomatoes he was referring to exactly. Strangely, the soffritto recipes I can find online contain no tomatoes but a mixture of celery, carrot and onion. These soffritto's are Tuscan recipes. My neighbour hails from Napoli. I guess in Napoli a soffritto is somewhat different from Tuscany. Basically you fry tomatoes in olive oil and spice the mixture with bay leaf and (a few) dried chilli peppers. His 'soffritto' contained no onions. And by the look of it also no celery or carrot.
Once the soffritto is ready you add and simmer bite sized pieces of pig's lung, liver and heart until completely soft. You'll end up with a very powerful and incredibly tasty sauce for pasta, spaghetti in this case. I asked him where he bought pig's lung, liver and heart in Amsterdam. He didn't. A friend brought the organ meat straight from Italy. In contrast with The Netherlands, in Italy the consumption of entrails and internal organs is widespread. It also seemed that the soffritto was also brought from Italy, but that bit got lost in translation as well.
So, do I have enough information to recreate this dish? I'm not sure. The secret ingredient seems to be right kind of tomatoes. And it seems it will be impossible to find those tomatoes in The Netherlands, but I have to say that my neighbour is passionate about his tomatoes. Even canned he prefers them straight from Italy because they will be more 'fresh'. In October his Italian friend will bring some more soffritto from Italy. I'm invited for another meal.
And I have to say.. this pasta, soffritto and pig's lung, liver and heart was just very very tasty! It's a shame Italian restaurants in The Netherlands will never serve this pasta sauce. Why? In The Netherlands the aversion against entrails and internal organs is widespread.
Update: I discovered there is a 'soffritto' from Napoli: "Zuppa 'e suffritto". From Wikipedia: "Il soffritto 'u suffrittu è tutt'altra cosa. Trattasi di uno stracotto di interiora di vitello, di capretto o di agnello, più raramente di maiale, cucinato con conserva di pomodoro, cipolla, sedano, olio d'oliva ed abbondante peperoncino rosso. Simile al murseddu catanzarese. A Napoli la stessa ricetta nella variante di maiale è ben conosciuta e apprezzata nella cucina popolare con il nome di "Zuppa 'e suffritto". Utilizzata da sola, sul pane o sulla pasta. Viene venduta anche già pronta in macelleria."
A recipe for Zuppa 'e suffritto
(Cut & pasted from the internets)
Obtain at least 1.5 kg of pork offal: lung, spleen, heart, trachea (=lung pipe), red wine, oil, grease, tomato paste, bay leaves, chili, rosemary, salt.
Chop the innards after being thoroughly washed. Then fry with olive oil and lard and agiungete (=add) red wine, a couple of bay leaves, rosemary, salt and much pepper. Cook slowly for a couple of hours, adding a bit 'of water*. Serve with croutons or noodles.
*) the tomato paste seems to be missing. I guess you add the tomato paste after frying the innards.
And a better photo of the left over sauce the next day: