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Tomato Pancetta Soup

January 6, 2009 | Soup

Pancetta is a small miracle food – to me, it’s better than traditional American bacon because it’s so flavorful, and once the fat is rendered out of it, it adds fabulous flavor without adding alot of calories. And what can I say about soup? I know I keep harping – it’s easy, it can be frozen and stored for another day, it makes a great first course – you know the drill!

Try this soup tonight for dinner – you won’t be disappointed!


Tomato Pancetta Soup
Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, diced small
1 small onion, diced
3 cups bread cubes, Ciabatta best
4 cups chicken stock
28 ounces chopped tomatoes (1 large can)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup basil, chopped
Rind of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, optional
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Heat a large saucepan over medium high, add olive oil and pancetta and sauté until fat is rendered and the pancetta is browned, being careful not to burn it. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion to the saucepan and sauté until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add cubed bread and toss with onions and olive oil, sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Return ½ of the pancetta back to the saucepan, and add chicken stock, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, then puree in a blender or using a stick or immersion blender. Return to saucepan and add basil and Parmigiano Reggiano rind and simmer for 10 minutes.

Mix mascarpone and crème fraiche well in a small bowl. Serve soup on large bowls and top each with a dollop of the mascarpone mixture. Divide remaining pancetta and grated Parmigiano Reggiano between the bowls and sprinkle on top.

Notes:
Feel free to substitute traditional bacon if you prefer the flavor or don’t have pancetta on hand.

Italians make use of left over bread in salads and soups – here it’s used as a thickener and an extender. If you prefer, you can reduce the amount of bread, but the recipe will yield less.

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