Rachel Roddy’s Pasta & Potato Soup

View the original recipe as printed in the Guardian here.

Serves 6

Rachel mentions in her recipe that it’s more a guideline than strict instructions. I would say the same for what I’m sharing here, though I thought it would be helpful to list more details on the ingredients (and how I prepped some of them), so you could see my interpretation. For instance, her recipe mentions 2 potatoes, weighing 600 grams. I’d been eyeing some local Yukon golds recently, and felt like they would be perfect in this soup, more for their color, than flavor. I find them a rather boring tasting potato on their own, but they soak up the flavors of the other ingredients, and the chunks dot the soup like bursts of sunshine.

With just water, I think this soup would be a fine, benefitting from a blizzard of pecorino to boost the flavor. Using stock is a real gamer changer, adding more depth to the overall soup. Oddly enough a few people commented on the Guardian website that this seemed like a meager amount for four people. I’d strongly disagree. Not only should we be more conscious of portion sizes, but it is quite a filling bowlful (no surprise since it’s a combination of pasta AND potatoes). Some call this a first course, but it’s totally a main for my appetite (also, I might confess that it’s hard to stop at just one bowl).

One last note, and it’s an important one. We all know soup is one of those meals that is often better when heated the next day, right? Well, if that’s your plan, or you won’t consume all the soup once it’s ready, then don’t add the pasta to the pot, or else you’re in for a very different experience. Instead, ladle the amount you want into a separate small pot, add the appropriate amount of pasta, and finish as directed. Experienced soup makers, and chefs, might want to even cook the pasta separately and add it to the soup when ready to serve—I don’t suggest doing this, really. The soup benefits greatly from cooking the pasta in it. The broken spaghetti bits, which are what I used, thicken the soup, and absorb the liquid as it cooks (that means flavorful pasta!).

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine

1 medium carrot, sliced into thin coins

1 celery rib, thinly sliced

2 bay leaves (Rachel also suggests rosemary, but bay leaves are what I had at home)

3 yukon gold potatoes (total of 600g)

6 cups (1.4 L) chicken, turkey, or vegetable stock

170g (about 1/3 pound) of pasta (quadrucci, pastina, farfalle, or broken spaghetti)

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated Pecorino Locatelli cheese

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or deep pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Season with the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Add the bay leaf and the potatoes. Continue cooking, stirring to coat the potatoes with the oil, for 2 to 3 more minutes.

Add the stock, and more salt, if necessary (remember you’re adding cheese at the end, too, which will add more salt, so less might be just right at this point). Bring to boil, then reduce flame just enough so the soup is at a vigorous simmer, with bubbles popping to the top. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the potato is very soft—easily smashed with a fork. Add the pasta, and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked to your liking. Add more stock if the soup seems to be thickening too much (or water, if used all of the stock in the beginning). Adjust salt, keeping in mind the cheese factor, again. Ladle into deep bowl. Finish with a swirl of olive oil, few grinds of black pepper, and as much cheese as you like before serving.