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Minestra di Pasta e Piselli

Earlier this week, Houston and the surrounding areas experienced a torrent of wind, heavy rains, and flooding. Thankfully, from where I live it was mostly just lots of rain and a few big thunder claps. After the rain, the temperature has dropped significantly and it’s freezing outside (freezing to this Texas girl is 60 degrees or colder). As I’m still getting over a cold I picked up over New Year’s, I decided it was the perfect time to make a piping hot bowl of soup.

As an added bonus, while I was making this recipe I achieved two cooking milestones – I made homemade chicken broth for the first time and also worked with an entire chicken for the first time! I never thought I’d be so excited to get my hands on a dead bird (raw meat still makes me cringe sometimes). To split up the work, I made the chicken broth the night before, refrigerated it overnight, and made the soup this morning. You could totally use low-sodium boxed chicken broth instead, nothing wrong with that.

What I love about this recipe is that it’s hearty enough to be a real meal. It’s got it all – pasta for carb lovers (that’s me), pancetta for meat lovers, and peas so you get your greens in. It’s also a really quick and easy recipe, perfect for those cold rainy days. Stay warm and enjoy!

It’s a shame I can’t turn this into a scratch-and-sniff picture, because the smell of butter + onions + pancetta = heavenly. Yes, I stood over the pot and inhaled in this bliss as it cooked. That’s not weird, right?

 

Minestra di Pasta e Piselli (Soup with Pasta and Peas)

  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 to 7 cups chicken broth
  • 1 small piece of the rind from wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional), plus 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  •  1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of your favorite small pasta (e.g., tubetti, ditalini, conchigliette, etc.)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas
  • Kosher or fine sea salt
  1. Warm the butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onions and pancetta and saute for 5 minutes. Add the thyme and a few grinds of black pepper, then saute another 5 minutes, or until the onions are transluscent and the pancetta has just begun to crisp but is still mostly tender.
  2. Pour in 6 cups of the broth and raise the heat to medium-high. Toss in the Parmigiano rind (if using). Bring the broth to a boil. Stir in the pasta, adding 1 1/2 cups if you want soupier soup or 1 3/4 cups if you want thicker soup. Stir in the peas. Cook the pasta until al dente (use the cooking time per the package instructions). Add additional broth if the soup seems too thick.
  3. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the grated Parmigiano. Taste the soup and add additional salt or pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls and serve with the remaining Parmigiano sprinkled over the top.

Source: Adapted from The Glorious Pasta of Italy

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