Many people would never associate pasta and potato, but in this case, you’re really going to have to trust me. This recipe has been in my family for more than 50 years, and considering that so far there’ve been two chefs in the family, it must be fantastico! Make sure you use a mealy potato like a russet. [Editor's Note: The word "mealy" in conjunction with potatoes may, for some, have undesirable associations. Although in this recipe, mealy is actually quite coveted given the lovely richness and thickness it lends to the consistency of this soup.]–Gino D’Acampo
LC Like Bacon for Pancetta? Note
We’ve a wee caveat to share with anyone tempted to substitute bacon for pancetta in this pantry-minded recipe. While that swap works in some recipes, we don’t encourage trying it here. Pancetta’s sturdy texture and meatiness handily withstand being simmered in this soupy stew without becoming limpid and soggy. Sadly, the same can’t be said about bacon, which turns flabby. Save it for frying up in a pan.
Pasta Soup with Potatoes, Pancetta and Leeks Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 45 M
- Serves 6
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large leek, washed and finely chopped
- 9 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 14 ounces mealy potatoes, such as russets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (2 small potatoes or 1 very large one)
- 2 quarts (8 cups) hot vegetable stock (or substitute chicken, beef, or duck stock)
- 3 tablespoons canned chopped tomatoes, drained, or more to taste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) farfalline or another soup pasta (or even spaghetti, broken into bits)
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Sauté the leek and pancetta for about 3 minutes. Add the carrot and potato and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for another 2 minutes.
- 2. Pour in the stock, lower the heat, and simmer gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
- 3. Add the chopped tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the pasta and continue to cook over low heat, uncovered, stirring every 2 minutes, until the pasta is al dente, about 6 minutes.
- 4. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Immediately ladle the soup into bowls.
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Testers ChoiceTesters Choice
Jan 15, 2013
WOW. Not sure where to start. This was a nice, hearty yet light soup that warmed up everyone’s hearts tonight. It’s very easy to make and can so easily be adapted to ingredients you may have at home, even though in this case I followed it to a T. There is something about this soup that screams Italian. We were six, and we still had leftovers for hubby to take to work.
Jan 15, 2013
I was actually surprised at just how much we liked this soup. It was extremely quick and easy to put together. Using top-quality ingredients, in a recipe where the ingredient list is not long, really made this dish taste fresh, clean, and pure. I had questioned how the pancetta would cook by just sautéeing it for three minutes with the leeks and then another two minutes with the potatoes. I use pancetta quite often, and usually cook the pancetta till it is brown or caramelized. I was concerned that I would not like the result, but wanted to try the recipe as written. This is another case of needing to have an open mind. The pancetta in the finished product was more like some very, very good ham which imparted great flavor to the broth. I used a really good organic chicken broth. The 14 ounces of potatoes ended up being 1 1/2 large potatoes. The nine ounces of pasta was much less than 2 1/4 cups; it was about 1 1/2 cups’ worth. Throwing the Parm in off the heat at the end really added to the wonderful taste and texture. The three tablespoons of chopped canned tomatoes seemed like an afterthought. I don’t know if it was mostly to add a touch of color, because that small amount of tomatoes in two quarts of stock, along with the vegetables, doesn’t really make a difference in taste. However, the end result was so good, that I may just throw in just the three tablespoons when I make this again, and I will make it again. The only change I made to the recipe was throwing a piece of Parmesan rind in when I added the broth to the pot. We have a bag of Parmesan rinds in the freezer, and this seemed like a good time to use one. It was!
Jan 15, 2013
This soup achieved such depth of flavor with such humble ingredients. The smoky pancetta infuses the potatoes with a great flavor. Fourteen ounces of potatoes comes out to about two small russets. Both the carrots and potatoes maintain just enough bite after simmering and they do not disintegrate when you place them in your mouth. I used chicken stock in my soup. It produced a rich, silky broth with lots of flavor. Shells are my pasta of choice for soups, and they were perfect for this one. I served this to a group of soup haters and each one of them had seconds. The recipe works exactly as written, so no guesswork. It comes together easily for a dinner after a busy day. This is a wonderful, delicious soup.
Jan 15, 2013
Excellent! It’s a very simple recipe that’s easy to follow with exceptional results. I would caution the cook to go easy on the “salt to taste.” Leave it a little bit lacking until after you add the Parmesan cheese, or you risk making it too salty. I think that you could use Yukon Gold, or another less starchy potato, for some texture without losing any taste. (Just a thought.)
Jan 15, 2013
A great, hearty, warming soup for a cold winter’s night. I highly recommend eating it with the suggested warm crusty bread, as it went so well with the soup. I used toasted and lightly buttered Italian bread. I used bacon instead of pancetta since it’s more budget- friendly and, of course, easier to find in our area. Since I already had chicken stock on hand, I used that in place of the vegetable stock, but I’m sure the latter would have been just as good. Two medium-ish russet potatoes gave me the desired 14 ounces. I was able to find farfalline. I loved having both pasta and potato in the soup and enjoyed the flavor the Parmesan and leek lent the soup, as well as the color and flavor of the carrot. Not sure how much impact three tablespoons of canned tomatoes gave the soup; next time I might just add the whole can–minus the juice, of course–to save on waste.
Jan 15, 2013
Soup and pasta–what could be better? While I didn’t have a chance to get out to the store to get actual pancetta, I did substitute a leaner bacon already on hand. The instructions are easy to follow, and the ingredients aren’t complicated. Using the potatoes I had on hand, 1 1/2 medium-large potatoes made just a touch over the 14 ounces asked for. I used three cups of low-sodium chicken broth and five cups water. And I found an alphabet pasta. I thought only three tablespoons tomatoes seemed chintzy, so I added a couple more tablespoons since they were in big chunks and I think that it’s a little wasteful to open a tin just for a few tablespoons of chopped tomato. It would be just as easy to dice a couple fresh tomatoes.
All said and done, my family and I really liked the soup. I think when I make this again, I will either add the whole tin of tomatoes or dice some fresh tomatoes. Also, I think pancetta is probably the better way to go. The bacon is nice, but the pancetta would be firmer. Just as a final note, the pasta absorbed most of the broth by the next morning and made a sort of pasta stew for lunch. A little fresh Parmesan and broth made for a tasty second meal.
Jan 15, 2013
I thought it was excellent when first served, but within 15 minutes the pasta had absorbed much of the broth. By the next day, I had to add two more cups of broth, and even more the third day (it makes a lot of soup!). The leftovers definitely were not as tasty as the first night.
Jan 15, 2013
This soup had great flavor and consistency. I used bacon, but didn’t like the fact that it didn’t have enough time to crisp up, per the recipe. Maybe pancetta would have reacted differently. I like crisp bacon, not limp, fatty bacon. The texture was good with the potatoes and pasta,but I picked out a lot of the limp bacon. Next time, I would cook the bacon separately, remove it, and then continue with the recipe. I used three small, peeled potatoes that equaled 14 ounces on the scale.
Pasta Soup with Potatoes, Pancetta and Leeks Recipe © 2012 Gino D’Acampo. Photo © 2010 Kate Whitaker. All rights reserved.