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On this Italian island, they build soup with ample herbs and tiny nuggets of pasta
Milk Street Bowtie Sardinian Herb Soup with Fregola and White Beans (S’erbuzzu)

Sardinian Herb Soup with Fregola and White Beans (S’erbuzzu)

Appears in March-April 2020

45 minutes

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Sardinian Herb Soup with Fregola and White Beans (S’erbuzzu)

Free

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-shaped Sardinian pasta) and white beans in the mix, the soup—which we learned from Chef Luigi Crisponi at Santa Rughe restaurant in Gavoi—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 used pancetta to build a 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.

4

Servings

Tip

Don’t forget to reserve the minced parsley stems separately from the chopped leaves. The stems go into the pot early on so they soften and infuse the broth with their herbal, minerally flavor; the leaves are added near the end so they retain their freshness and color.

45 minutes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
3-4 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems minced, leaves roughly chopped, reserved separately
1½ teaspoons fennel seeds
½ cup dry white wine
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
¾ cup fregola (see note)
15½ ounce can large white beans, such as butter beans, rinsed and drained
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces ricotta salata cheese (see note), crumbled (¾ cup)
4 ounces baby arugula (about 6 cups lightly packed), roughly chopped
½ cup lightly packed fresh tarragon, chopped
Ingredients
  • 2

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

  • 3-4

    ounces pancetta, chopped

  • 1

    bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems minced, leaves roughly chopped, reserved separately

  • teaspoons fennel seeds

  • ½

    cup dry white wine

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 2

    quarts low-sodium chicken broth

  • ¾

    cup fregola (see note)

  • 15½

    ounce can large white beans, such as butter beans, rinsed and drained

  • 3

    medium garlic cloves, minced

  • 4

    ounces ricotta salata cheese (see note), crumbled (¾ cup)

  • 4

    ounces baby arugula (about 6 cups lightly packed), roughly chopped

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh tarragon, chopped

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Sardinian Herb Soup with Fregola and White Beans (S’erbuzzu)

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

45 minutes

Tip

Don’t forget to reserve the minced parsley stems separately from the chopped leaves. The stems go into the pot early on so they soften and infuse the broth with their herbal, minerally flavor; the leaves are added near the end so they retain their freshness and color.

Ingredients
  • 2

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

  • 3-4

    ounces pancetta, chopped

  • 1

    bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems minced, leaves roughly chopped, reserved separately

  • teaspoons fennel seeds

  • ½

    cup dry white wine

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 2

    quarts low-sodium chicken broth

  • ¾

    cup fregola (see note)

  • 15½

    ounce can large white beans, such as butter beans, rinsed and drained

  • 3

    medium garlic cloves, minced

  • 4

    ounces ricotta salata cheese (see note), crumbled (¾ cup)

  • 4

    ounces baby arugula (about 6 cups lightly packed), roughly chopped

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh tarragon, chopped

Step 1 of 3

Combine Ingredients In Pot

2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3-4
ounces pancetta, chopped
1
bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems minced
teaspoons fennel seeds
½
cup dry white wine
Ground black pepper

In 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.

Step 2 of 3

Cook Until Fregola Is Tender

2
quarts low-sodium chicken broth
¾
cup fregola (see note)
15½
ounce can large white beans, such as butter beans, rinsed and drained
3
medium garlic cloves, minced
1
bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped
2
ounces ricotta salata cheese

Add the broth and bring to a boil over high. Stir in the fregola and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat to maintain a simmer, until the fregola is just shy of tender, about 10 minutes.


Add the beans, garlic, parsley leaves and half of the ricotta salata, then continue to cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to maintain a bare simmer, until the fregola is fully tender, about another 10 minutes.

Step 3 of 3

Finish and Serve

4
ounces baby arugula (about 6 cups lightly packed), roughly chopped
½
cup lightly packed fresh tarragon, chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2
ounces ricotta salata cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil to serve

Off heat, stir in the arugula and tarragon, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the remaining ricotta salata and drizzled with additional oil.

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