Every Thursday on the Good Food Blog we share a recipe from our archives.
Vincent Schiavelli is the author of Many Beautiful Things: Stories and Recipes from Polizzi Generosa, published by Simon & Schuster. He first shared this recipe for Drowned Lettuce Soup on January 11, 2003.
Keep reading for the full recipe…
Drowned Lettuce Soup
For 6 servings
- Sea salt
- 1 or 2 heads Romaine lettuce (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
- 4 ounces imported pecorino cheese, preferably Locatelli brand, in 1 piece
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- One 3/8 inch thick slice pancetta (about 2 ounces), diced
- 2 small cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- Black pepper
- 6 cups spring water, hot
- 1 pound ditali (small tube macaroni about 1/4 inch in diameter and 1/2 inch long)
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
- Crushed red pepper
1. Fill a large pot with 6 quarts water. Add 2 tablespoons salt and bring it to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, wash and dry the lettuce. Cut it into 2-inch lengths and put them in a bowl until needed.
2. Grate 1/2 cup of the cheese. Cut the remainder into 1/2 inch lengths and put them into a bowl until needed. Prepare all other ingredients, keeping them separate. Put the onion and olive oil in a heavy 6-quart pot. Saut- over low heat until the onion is a rich golden color, about 7 minutes.
3. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the pancetta and garlic. Saut- for 2 minutes or until the pancetta turns clear. Stir in the tomato paste and add the lettuce, mixing it well with the other ingredients. Season with salt and the grindings of black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 8 minutes or until the lettuce is well-wilted.
4. Add the diced pecorino, mixing it in well. The “drown” the lettuce with the hot spring water. Stir, raise the heat, cover, and cook at a gentle simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the cheese from sticking. During this time, cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente, about 10 minutes.
5. Drain the pasta, allowing some of the liquid to cling, and toss it into the pot with lettuce. Stir in the basil, and check for salt.
6. Serve very hot, using the cooking pot as a tureen. Sprinkle each bowl with grated pecorino and crushed red pepper to taste.