An Italian Chef’s Pea Soup
A cold night. Got home late. I’m hungry and there is nothing much in the refrigerator. Check the freezer. Frozen peas, some chopped pancetta, bread. Yes, I have an onion and some garlic. Perfect! We’ll have a great dinner.
Pisellata is a simple soup from the Marche region of Italy. I came across the recipe in a book called Luigi Carnacina Presents Italian Home Cooking given to me by my friend Diane some years ago. Luigi Carnacina was a great Italian chef and the author of many cookbooks. According to his bio, he was a protege of Escoffier. The book was written in 1972 when Carnacina was 83 years old. Whenever I browse through it, I am amazed at how practical and timeless the recipes are.
Of course, I added a few touches of my own to his soup recipe, substituting pancetta for his salt pork, using frozen peas (which I always keep in the house), and poaching an egg in the finished soup. But that’s what home cooking is all about, and I think the chef would appr0ve.
Pea Soup Macerata Style
Pisellata alla Maceratese
Makes 4 Servings
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces chopped pancetta
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup chopped Italian peeled tomatoes (I used canned cherry tomatoes)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 cups water
1 pound frozen peas
Thin slices Italian bread, toasted
Optional but good:
Grated Pecorino Romano
In a large soup pot, cook the onion and pancetta in the oil until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and parsley and cook one minute more. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Add the water and bring it to a boil.
Stir in the peas and bring it to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When ready to serve, break an egg (if using) into a cup. Carefully tip the egg on top of the soup. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Turn off the heat. Cover the pot and let the eggs cook a few minutes until done to taste.
Place a slice or two of bread in each soup plate. Spoon an egg and some of the soup over the bread. Sprinkle with cheese, if using. Serve hot.