As the days get shorter and a little chill creeps into the air, I have embraced my old, trusty pantry stand-byes with renewed vigor.
- Frozen Spinach
- Tomato paste (in a tube, kept in the fridge once open)
- Tomatoes (fresh in the summer, canned the rest of the year)
- Pasta, many shapes
- Chicken broth
- Romano cheese
You see, the cooler nights mean it is time for a simple, sturdy soup, hearty enough to stand the test of a crusty slice of bread and yet still light enough to allow me to get up from my seat at the kitchen table and walk the puppy later in the evening.
This ‘soup’ is even better the next day, which means lunch is a feast in my household.
There are as many variations on this soup as there are shapes of pasta. In short, use this recipe as a guide and then make it yours. This recipe was adapted from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe.
Note: If you happen to have a new puppy in your house, who insists on a walk at 4:30 am, and you just can’t fall back asleep afterword, you can chop the vegetables for this soup ahead of time.
Also, if you are after a more ‘authentic’ Italian dish and the inspiration for this recipe, look up the recipe for Ribollita on p.290 of the The Silver Spoon Cookbook. This recipe is as close to a ‘true’ Tuscan peasant soup as you can get (in my opinion, but don’t tell your Nonna I said so).
Original recipe adapted from Everyday Pasta by Giada De Laurentiis
2 T. Extra virgin olive oil
4 oz. pancetta, thinly sliced or diced
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
3-4 carrots (~1 c.), chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. tomato paste
(1) 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes*, no salt added
(1) 15 oz can Cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1.5 c. frozen spinach or kale, thawed and drained
8 c. Chicken Broth, low sodium
2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Rind from Parmesan Cheese **
1 c. pasta, any small shape
Romano cheese, grated, for serving
Baguette slices, for serving
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil. Wait until oil is hot then add pancetta. It will snap and pop. Stir, about 4 minutes, until just starting to brown. Add onion and carrots. Sauté until onions are translucent and carrots soften. Stir in garlic for ~30 seconds. Make a little space in the center of the pot. Add tomato paste. ‘Toast’ in a few seconds, then stir in the tomatoes, scraping up brown bits at the bottom of the pan.
Add remaining ingredients, through the Parmesan rinds. Bring to a slow boil. Simmer 20 minutes. Add pasta. Bring to a boil. Lower heat. Simmer 10 minutes.
Served topped with Romano cheese and a crusty slice of bread.
* I use fresh tomatoes in the summer, but canned the rest of the year.
** I save my Parmiggiano Reggiano rinds in a plastic bag in the freezer to make soups like this one. Whole Foods sells the rinds, too. I have never purchased JUST the rinds. Get a little bit of cheese and enjoy it, too!