RECIPE: Pasta Piselli Soup
In all the crazy holiday overeating in the past few weeks, a welcome break for dinner is a lighter yet still filling dinner soup. This soup is in part inspired by the traditional "pasta piselli", an Italian peasant pasta dish I grew up on. I found it in one of my many one dish supper cookbooks, but adapted it for our palates. It is pretty easy, and you can use really any pasta noodle you want, but the square, flat noodle look is different, and it is a great way to empty your pantry of waning lasagna noodles. Also, if you can't find pancetta, use rindless, smoked bacon or salt pork.
Pasta Piselli Soup
3 oz. sliced pancetta, roughly chopped
3 oz. sliced prosciutto, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 lb. frozen peas
1 1/2 tsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
5 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup water
11 oz. whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked partway and slightly cooled
1 Tsp. fresh ground pepper
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
In a large stockpot, heat the butter and oil until melted and hot. Add the onions and celery until very soft and translucent. Add the meats and cook for 5 minutes, or until the fat is almost all rendered. Add the frozen peas. With your spoon, use the melting ice to scrape up whatever brown bits were at the bottom of the pan. Cover for 3-5 minutes, and continue using the spoon to break up the peas as the defrost and sizzle in the heat. Once all incorporated and any ice is gone, simmer for 2 more minutes. Then add tomato paste and combine well. Add all the liquid while continuing to scrape up the bits on the bottom. Add all the seasoning and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut your par-cooked lasagna sheet in 2 inch squares. To make this go quicker, I accordion fold the sheet, even layering 2-3 at a time if possible. With sharp kitchen scissors I slice the folds on top and bottom. Then I slice across the length of the batch into squares, letting them fall in a separate bowl.
When the peas are tender and the time is up, add the pasta squares and let the pasta finish cooking in the soup for the remainder 3-4 minutes. adjust seasoning. Depending on the salt content of your meats, you may or may not need salt. If you find things to be a little salty at this point, add a cup of water to the soup to lighten things up a little. You may find is you did not use low-sodium broth, you may need to take this step in the end. When pasta is tender and the soup's seasoning has been adjusted, serve in bowls with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.