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Tomato Soup with Pancetta

October 15, 2007

Soup has never been my thing. To eat it? Yes, of course! To make it? No way. I’ve tried, really, I have. My attempt New England clam chowder…inedible. Creamy tomato soup…red tasteless liquid. Broccoli and cheddar…green tasteless liquid. And then there was the infamous attempt at making Manhattan clam chowder – from a tried and true recipe that my mom and grandmother have used for YEARS and is the only food guests ask about the presence of during my aunt and uncle’s annual beach house party on Fire Island…it turned out so horrific that even the animals wouldn’t eat it when it froze after I poured it outside in the middle of winter. I’ve watched enough Food Network in my life to have seen dozens of soups being made and not a single one of them looked too challenging to make – so WHY couldn’t I do it??

I had pretty much given up on making homemade soups but something inside of me yelled out to tell me that I wasn’t quite ready to resign to eating canned soup for the rest of my life. I searched and searched last week and finally came upon a tomato soup recipe that I was willing to make in the hopes of rejuvinating my efforts at making soup. It was Giada’s tomato and pancetta soup and being that I’ve yet to fail at making any of Giada’s recipes, I figured that this would be the right recipe to get me on the soup track.

The recipe sounded perfect except for adding chunks of bread which are supposed to aid in thickening the soup – to me it only sounded like soggy bread and I wasn’t willing to risk another soup attempt on soggy bread. I’ve learned enough over the past couple of years about how to make substititions to recipes in order to make them “my own” and this would be another one of those times. Actually, my changes were minimal, only omitting the bread and adding about 1 1/2 tbsp of a cornstarch slurry, 1/2 cup heavy cream (I LOVE creamy tomato soup), and a package of fresh tortellini to really round out the soup as a meal. I also used my handy-dandy immersion blender before adding the tortellini and cream to smooth out the thick chunks of diced tomatoes as I knew Kyle would never try the soup with chunks of tomatoes floating around. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could puree the soup in a blender then return it to the pot.

The result was outstanding. I was truly astounded that I FINALLY made not only a decent soup, but one that we both loved and that I’m having for both lunch and dinner today! After pureeing with the immersion blender, the flavors really mingled nicely and the cornstarch and heavy cream did a wonderful job at thickening the soup just enough. Before making this, I read a lot of the reviews on FN and about half didn’t like and wouldn’t recommend putting the bread in the soup so I’m really glad I opted out of this. The reviews also highly recommended not omitting the mascaropone and sour cream mixture to dollop on the soup before serving, and I’m SO glad that I listened to the reviews. The mixture added the perfect touch to the warm soup and I ended up doubling the mixture because 1/2 cup didn’t seem like enough for 6 servings of soup. Below you will find the recipe with my changes – the original recipe can be found here. I will definitely make Giada’s tomato soup again, and thankfully, this recipe has restored my faith in my soup-making abilities.

Tomato Soup with Pancetta

source: Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • dash or 2 of dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (I used about 1/2 tsp Kosher salt and maybe 1/4 tsp pepper)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch plus 1 1/2 tbsp water, combined in a small bowl to make a slurry
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz tortellini, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Puree soup with the immersion blender.
  2. Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 3-5 minutes. Add cornstartch/water slurry and tortellini. Allow to cook, covered, for 7-8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in heavy cream. Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add basil during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Reseason soup with salt and pepper if necessary.
  3. Stir the mascarpone and sour cream in a small bowl to blend. Ladle the soup into bowls. Spoon a dollop of the mascarpone mixture atop the soup and serve.
Prep time: 5 mintues
Cook time: 25 mintues
Serves: 6-8

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Elly permalink
    October 15, 2007 9:38 pm

    sounds great! pretty pictures, too 🙂

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