EGG DROP SOUP WITH ZUCCHINI, AMALFI STYLE
Zuppa Amalfitana alle Zucchine
This pasta soup is adapted from a recipe my mother learned from Pierino Iovene, who many years ago owned an amazing seafood restaurant, Il Gambero Rosso, in my mother’s hometown of Cesenatico. A native of Amalfi and a very gifted cook, Pierino would periodically prepare some of his native specialties for us, one of which was a delicious zucchini egg drop soup. I’ve replaced the potatoes he used with a corkscrew-shaped, tubular pasta and discovered his soup is also delicious as a pasta soup. Don’t use smaller soup pasta shapes, as they are not substantial enough here.
~ 1/2 small yellow onion
~ 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
~ 1 ounce pancetta, sliced 1/8 inch thick
~ 3/4 pound zucchini
~ Freshly ground black pepper
~ 1/2 pound tomatoes
~ 6 ounces cavatappi pasta
~ 6 – 8 fresh basil leaves
~ 1 egg
Peel the onion and finely chop it. Put it with the olive oil in a 4- to 6-quart soup pot and place over medium-high heat. Sauté until the onion turns a rich golden color, about 5 minutes.
While the onion is sautéing, cut the pancetta into small 1/8-inch dice. Wash the zucchini, remove the ends, and cut it into chunks no larger than 1/2-inch.
When the onion is ready, add the pancetta and sauté until it loses its raw color, about 1 minute. Add the zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Sauté the zucchini until it just begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
While the zucchini is sautéing, peel the tomatoes and coarsely chop them. When the zucchini is ready, add the tomatoes. Season lightly with salt, cook for about 3 more minutes, then add 5 cups water. Cover the pot and, once the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the zucchini is quite tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
When the zucchini is tender, add the pasta. Coarsely shred the basil and add it to the soup. Cook until the pasta is al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, crack the egg in a small mixing bowl and whisk it until the yolk and white form a homogeneous mixture. As soon as the soup is ready, remove it from the heat and pour the egg into the soup in a thin, steady stream while stirring constantly. Serve at once.
Recipe from Thirty Minute Pasta: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes by Giuliano Hazan (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, September 2009, $24.95/trade paperback original)