This odd little pasta shape has been sitting in my pantry for a couple of months. I had never before seen this shape and couldn’t resist picking it up when I saw it in my local Italian supermarket. I don’t know about you, but this shape reminds me of those wooden spoons given out to eat pre-packaged cups of ice cream. They are very small, maybe the length of a finger nail. Initially I wasn’t sure what I’d do with them. They are too small for a Sunday pasta with gravy. They would be swimming in it. I would probably have used them in my chicken soup, if I wasn’t keeping a vegetarian kitchen and still cooked chicken soup (sniff).
Then, last Sunday, it dawned on me that there was another soup just waiting for these little pasta spoons, minestrone. I’ve never been a huge fan of minestrone, but I figured it was time to make friends with it, especially since I could toss in this pasta AND use up some of the vegetables in my refrigerator.
Let’s cut quickly to the result. I loved the soup! It was an excellent alternative to Sunday pasta, plus it had so many great vegetables. Plus, after the initial vegetable prep, it was a pretty easy dinner to put together.
Therefore, for your sake and, more importantly mine, here is the recipe I followed on Sunday. I assure you that this recipe will be tinkered with in the future, depending on which vegetables and small pasta shapes I have on hand, and I encourage you to do the same. However, I have no doubt that it will turn out well every time. Enjoy!
- 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ red onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and dices
- 3 celery stalks, ends trimmed, and diced
- 1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 large can peeled Italian tomatoes
- ½ cup minced fresh parsley
- 3 fresh basil leaves
- 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1-2 rinds of fresh parmesan cheese (depending how many are lurking in your cheese drawer)
- 1 cup small pasta such as orzo or ditalini
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup grated parmesan for serving
- olive oil for drizzling
- Heat soup pot over medium heat, add olive oil and onion, and saute until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the next three vegetables and continue to saute until carrots, celery and pepper begins to soften too, about 10 minutes. Add crushed red pepper, parsley, tomatoes, and canned tomatoes, crushing with back of spoon. Continue to saute another 5 minutes.
- Using your tomato can to measure, add 1½ cans of water, basil, cheese rinds and beans to pot, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Bring soup to boil then lower to simmer, simmering approximately 45 minutes, uncovered, checking to make sure it stays the desired soup consistency. If necessary, add more water. Finally, add the pasta and cook until pasta is tender, about 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of grated cheese.