Feb 18, 2010

Pasta e Patate

Don't let the name fool you, pasta with potatoes is a soup. Thick and hearty, but still, a soup.
It is usually prepared with pasta mista (pasta ammescata in Neapolitan dialect), which has recently been produced industrially as a distinct variety of pasta, but which was once sold cheaply by weight, made up of odd broken pieces of various different shapes of pasta.

The traditional cooking method for this kind of soup consists in cooking the condiments first, making the base of the soup, then throwing in the pasta. While cooking with all the other ingredients, the pasta retains precious starches, which would have been lost if normally cooked separately in salty water and then drained. Cooking pasta together with vegetables makes the sauce creamier; as a bonus, adding the secret ingredient* makes this a 100% authentic cucina povera specialty.


  • 500 gr (1.1 lb) small tubetti or mis-matched pasta (you can make your own with odd leftover pasta shapes, provided they all share the same cooking time)
  • 500 gr (1.1 lb) russet potatoes (best if old!), peeled and cubed
  • 1 glass of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, minced
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 1 quart of beef stock (OK, can be made with bouillon cube)
  • * 200 gr (1 cup) smoked provola, diced (can be substituted with any smoked semi-soft cheese)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large stewpot equipped with a tight fitting lid. Sauté the onion and garlic and when they begin to tan, add the celery, simmer lightly, and season with salt and pepper.
Pour in 2 ladles of stock and add the cubed potatoes. Gently simmer over medium-low heat, and bear in mind the potatoes mustn’t purée.

Add the raw pasta and cook as you would risotto, ladling in broth a little at a time as it absorbs. The degree of thickness is determined by this key step. Too much stock will make your soup too liquid, too little will result in a soggy "neither fish nor flesh" dish. Keep hearty Italian minestre like Ribollita in mind as a texture model.

When the pasta is cooked through, rank up the heat and toss in the diced smoked cheese, stirring constantly. Cover and let the cheese melt and form lovely long springy ribbons.
One last turn of the peppermill and devour while still burning hot.













16 comments:

  1. mmm...sounds good. great tip about cooking the pasta in with the ingredients as well...

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  2. Delicious! I love the sounds of this soup!

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  3. OH! this is made for me, i LOVE soup and the simpler the better. i mean for me to make...not your lovely recipe. YUM.

    i am going to look for a pencil right now, thank you thank you lola dear. chuck is going to love this too!

    thinking of you ♥
    love,
    lori

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  4. mmmm yum, this looks fabulous! Just what we need here in Piemonte with the weather we have!

    Stay warm and cozy.

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  5. This soup looks so healthy and delicious! I want a bowl of it now. :)

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  6. I never met a soup I didn't like - and I know I'd love this!

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  7. Your photos are incredible....I've just eaten and they make me want to cook again! smiles.

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  8. That is one of the most beautiful soup bowls I've ever seen - it is so *me* I want it. Is it yours?

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  9. So glad you're in the mood for some pasta e patate! Thanks for your delightful comments.

    FF– the serving container is actually an old enamelled yellow stew pot with a black rim, the kind you find in any homeware store.
    The hand painted terracotta plates are from Vietri, near Salerno, town famous for this craftwork.

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  10. Hello Eleonora, this soup sounds wonderful - as well as easy to make. I'm not necessarily a fan of smoked cheese, probably because I've never tasted a good one. Any in particular that you recommend (is the provola in the recipe a form of provolone cheese?)Love your pottery and color-scheme in the post. How were you able to impose the name of your site onto the photos? Ciao, Bella!!

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  11. Oooh! It totally gave me an idea of what to make for dinner with the leftover potatoes that we had :-)

    The main difference that I made soffritto, used vegetable stock and parmiggiana instead of provola. And such a nice and hearty meal that it was :-)

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  12. I would love to try this soup. But it's all gone!

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  13. Interesting. The pictures were all wonderful. The soup looks delicious... yum yum Nice post!

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  14. Ooh, Lola - How did you know that I am getting a new cooker delivered to my home later this week?

    I shall be trawling here for your delicious and nutritious recipes, my dahlink - If you see from your stat counter that someone from the north has been here for hours, c'est moi! xxx

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  15. Sounds and looks delicious! For the kitchen bumbler, though, a question ... how much is a "glass" of EVOO???

    Grazie!

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Ciao
Eleonora

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