Pasta e Patate (Pasta and Potato Soup)
Pasta e patate is a fortifying, soothing Italian soup made for blustery days. The starchy combination of pasta and potatoes makes for a rich and satisfying broth. Avoid the temptation to use chicken or vegetable broth instead of water, and be assured that the pancetta, Parmesan rind, olive oil and starchy potatoes all add ample flavor and body to the humble soup. (In southern Italy, tomatoes are also added for a red version of the dish.) If you use bacon instead of the pancetta, be mindful that the results will be smokier and saltier.
- Serves: 4 persons
- ⅓cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1large carrot, scrubbed and finely chopped
- 1large celery stalk, finely chopped
- 2garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2ounces finely chopped pancetta or bacon (about 1/2 cup)
- Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal) and black pepper
- 3medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1rosemary sprig
- 1(2-inch) piece Parmesan rind
- 6ounces spaghetti (a little more than 1/4 of a box), broken into fourths
- Grated Parmesan or pecorino, to serve
Step 1In a large pot, heat the oil over medium. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and pancetta; season with a good pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes.
Step 2Add the potatoes and rosemary, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, just until the potatoes are no longer completely raw and the rosemary is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Cover with 6 cups of water, then add the Parmesan rind and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir, scraping up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot, and bring to a gentle boil. Partially cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes have completely softened, 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 3With the back of a wooden spoon, smush a few of the potatoes against the side of the pot, then taste the broth and adjust seasoning. Add the pasta, raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked through, about 12 minutes. Keep an eye on the liquid amount. If you prefer a thinner soup, add more water as needed. If you prefer a thicker broth, you can smoosh more potatoes for a starchier consistency, but be mindful that the soup will thicken significantly as it sits (see Tip).
Step 4Remove the rosemary sprig and Parmesan rind, and serve the soup with grated Parmesan or pecorino, and more black pepper, if you like.