Minestra cucinata, which translates literally as “soup that has been cooked,” is a rustic soup that is one of the oldest dishes in Jewish Roman cuisine. Back in the day, the basic version of minestra cucinata was a thick, garlicky tomato soup with broken pieces of spaghetti or other pasta (it was sometimes also called minestra spezzata, or “broken soup”). Nowadays, a richer version of the dish, featuring Romanesco broccoli and potatoes, also goes by the name minestra cucinata. You can omit the Romanesco and potatoes, if you like; the soup is excellent either way.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil 3 Tbs
- Garlic 1 clove, smashed
- Yellow Onion 1 small, thinly sliced
- Tomato Puree (Passata) or Canned Tomatoes finely diced, 1¾ cups
- Kosher Salt ½ tsp, or more to taste
- Romanesco Broccoli 1 head, leaves trimmed, core removed, chopped into florets
- Potato 1, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- Water 4½ cups
- Spaghetti 85g, broken into pieces or Small Pasta of your choice, 60 g
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Grated Pecorino or Parmesan Cheese for serving (optional)
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, stir in the garlic and onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until golden.
- Add the tomato puree and salt and stir to combine. Add the Romanesco and potato cubes and stir well. Add the water and bring to a simmer over medium heat, then lower the heat to medium-low and let the soup cook for approximately 40 minutes, until the vegetables are quite tender.
- Add the broken spaghetti or other pasta and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the type of pasta (check the box for the suggested timing). If the soup thickens too much before the pasta is ready, add a ladleful of water and continue simmering until the pasta is al dente and the vegetables are soft. Adjust the salt if needed and add freshly ground pepper to taste.
- Serve the soup hot or warm, with some grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese on top, if desired (it’s optional, if you want to keep the meal pareve).