Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tiny Pasta & Pea Soup


In Italian, this soup is called, Minestra di Pasta e Piselli...translated, it's Pasta & Pea Soup.
I couldn't resist making it, as I fell in love with the idea of tiny pasta stars & itty bitty diced vegetables. I was also intrigued with the idea of making a "battuto", or an Italian version of a "Mirepoix". For those unfamiliar with the term, it's basically a finely diced blend of aromatics & flavorful vegetables...and, in this case, prosciutto. It's used to enhance the flavor of stocks, soups & sauces. Many cultures have their own version of the Mirepoix...the Spanish have sofrito, the Portuguese have refogado,...in Creole cooking, it's called the holy trinity.
With a base of aromatic vegetables, butter & prosciutto, I figured, how could this soup not be good?
It's delicious...and, not only that it's so pretty. It went over well with the family & I'm happy I have a pot of it for the impending snowstorm headed our way!

Begin by coarsely chopping 1 1/2 ounces of prosciutto, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 onion, 1 clove of garlic & 12 large basil leaves. Add everything to the bowl of a food processor.

Pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until all the ingredients are finely chopped. This mixture is your battuto.

Heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat & add the battuto. Cook, stirring occasionally, until everything gets soft, about 8-10 minutes. Pour 2 quarts of chicken stock & bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer & stir in a 1/2 cup of star shaped pasta {pastina}. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, or until the pasta is about half done.

Add a 1/2 cup each of finely diced carrots & fennel...along with a 1/2 cup peas {fresh or frozen}. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the vegetables & pasta are just tender.

Season the soup with a generous amount of kosher salt {or, to taste} & some freshly ground black pepper. Serve the soup with a squeeze of lemon & a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.

Tiny Pasta & Pea Soup

Adapted from Fine Cooking magazine, "Soups & Stews"
Serves 6
Any small soup style pasta, such as stelline, orzo, or acini di pepe, can be used in this soup. If needed, the "battuto", an Italian version of a French "mirepoix", can be made without a food processor, by finely chopping the ingredients by hand. Once cooked, the battuto becomes a "soffritto" & is an excellent flavor base for sauces & soups.

1 1/2 ounces prosciutto, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove of garlic, smashed
12 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 quarts low-sodium {or homemade} chicken stock
1/2 cup pastina {tiny star shaped pasta}
1/2 cup peas {fresh, or frozen}
1/2 cup tiny diced carrots
1/2 cup tiny diced fennel
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper {to taste}
lemon wedges & grated Parmesan {for serving}

Add the prosciutto, butter, onion, garlic & basil to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until all the ingredients are finely chopped. This mixture is called a battuto. Heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat & add the battuto. Cook, stirring occasionally, until everything gets soft, about 8-10 minutes.
Pour in the chicken stock & bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer & stir in the pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, or until the pasta is about half done. Add the peas, carrots & fennel. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the vegetables & pasta are just tender. Season the soup with a generous amount of kosher salt {or, to taste} & some freshly ground black pepper.
Serve the soup with a squeeze of lemon & a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.
Click here for the printable recipe.

8 comments:

Toute La Monde said...

This looks like a delicious use for the bulbs of fennel in my fridge looking to be eaten!

Joanne said...

My mom always made something like this for us when we were sick except she called it pastina! Those stars are the best part. They make me giddy.

rheiss001 said...

I really loved the flavor of this, but found the pastina made it more like a mush, and I followed the amounts to the letter.

Next time will use an Anci de Pepe or maybe a Ditalini instead.

Great flavor though, enjoyed it a lot!

kate said...

Sorry it was mushy for you! How long did you cook the pasta? Mine wasn't mushy at all. But, then again we eat lots of pastina around here so I am very used to the texture of it.

Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen said...

How interesting that the butter is added directly to the food processor with all the other ingredients rather than in the pan, I've never seen that before.

A Busy Nest said...

I love acini de pepe! This soup looks delightful.

Sasa said...

Such a beautiful picture! I have kitchen utensil envy about that wee pot too.

ali said...

Looks delicious and very light. I'll have to make this :)

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