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Sardinian Herb Soup with Fregola and White Beans (S’erbuzzu)
Traditionally, the Sardinian soup called s’erbuzzu is jammed with wild herbs and greens—sometimes more than 17 varieties. And with both fregola (a pea-like Sardinian pasta) and white beans in the mix, the soup is as hearty and starchy as it is herbal. For our version, we narrowed the list of herbs and greens to those we felt had the most impact: parsley for grassiness, tarragon for sweet anise notes and arugula for pepperiness. We also use pancetta to build savory backbone and ricotta salata cheese, as Sardinians do, for complexity. If you can’t find fregola, substitute an equal amount of pearl couscous, but cook it for only 5 minutes before adding the beans, parsley and garlic. And if ricotta salata is not available, finely grated pecorino Romano is a reasonable swap, but halve the amount.
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
ounces pancetta, chopped
01In a large pot over medium, heat the oil and pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta is browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the parsley stems and fennel seeds, then add the wine and 1 teaspoon pepper, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring, until most of the moisture has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
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