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Peas and Potato Soup with Tarragon Pesto

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 5 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 pound pancetta or bacon, finely diced, optional

2 onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 large starchy potatoes, peeled and diced 1/2-inch

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large head escarole, cleaned and chopped

A few grates nutmeg

1 quart chicken or vegetable stock-in-a-box

3 cups water

2 cups frozen peas

1/4 cup ditalini pasta


1 small bunch or packaged tarragon, leaves picked, about 3/4 to 1 cup loosely packed

A generous handful flat-leaf parsley

3 to 4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts or shelled pistachio nuts

1 clove garlic, grated or flattened into paste

1 lemon, zested and juiced (1 tablespoon)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

About 1/4 to 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


  1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat with extra-virgin olive oil a couple of turns of the pan. Add the pancetta, if using, the onions and the garlic. Stir occasionally for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add the escarole and season with nutmeg, cover the pan and let wilt for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock and water and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes for flavors to combine, adjust salt and pepper, to taste, and let cool. Store for a make-ahead meal. Bring the soup, covered, to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the peas and ditalini and cook to al dente, about 7 to 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and serve in shallow bowls garnished with pesto.
  2. Pesto:
  3. Put the herbs into food processor along with the nuts and grated garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, then add the lemon zest, extra-virgin olive oil and the cheese. Pulse into a coarse paste, then transfer the pesto to storage container and drizzle the top with a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil to retard browning. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temp when ready to use.
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