Spring Soup~

Minestra di Primavera

Lettuce, Pea and Pasta Soup

[As featured on WTSU radio’s Community Focus with host Carolyn Hutcheson and WSFA-TV 12’s Alabama Live! with hosts Judd Davis and Tonya Terry.]

Things burst green and fresh in the garden when Spring arrives. Lettuces are often the first to peek through the dirt with tender leaves that can tolerate warming days and nights that still hold a bit of nip in the air. This soup, also known by its Italian name Minestra di Primavera (Spring Soup), is a quick and simple dish, full of green lettuces and sweet peas—perfect for lunch or a light supper!

Buon Appetito~


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

1 medium onion, finely minced

1/2 to 3/4 pound baby Romaine or Romaine hearts, chopped into medium dice

1/2 to 3/4 pound curly endive, chopped into medium dice (chicory, escarole, or arugula may be substituted)

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

8 cups low-sodium canned chicken stock (make vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock)

1 cup tubettini or ditalini (or your favorite small tube pasta)

1 cup frozen green peas (*substitute 1/2 pound fresh sugar snap peas when in season)

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it starts to turn golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the lettuces, parsley, salt and pepper, stir until well combined and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until the lettuces are wilted and start to lightly brown. Add the stock, cover the pot, and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add the pasta [*if substituting sugar snap peas, add now with the pasta], stirring occasionally, cooking until the pasta is al dente—tender but firm to the bite, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the frozen peas, stirring until well combined. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the soup rest briefly for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with a tablespoon of grated Parmigiano and a drizzle of olive oil over the top of each serving.

This makes 8 one-cup servings. 

[*Note: When in season, sugar snap peas are fresh burst of flavor in this recipe. To use: remove the stem end and trim the “string” away by pulling from the stem end to the tip. Cut each pod crosswise in half or, depending on size, into equal thirds. Add to the mixture with the ditalini pasta.]

In case you don't think this is truly Italian, here is a bowl of this very soup, made with endive, that I ate at "Trattoria Settimio"~ a family-style restaurant in Rome.


OR ~ listen to the “on air” radio cooking segment HERE.


About the Author

Mark LeslieMark Leslie, seen cooking on NBC’s "The Today Show" and Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family," loves to cook for anyone with an appetite, vacations in Italy every year, and lives to eat his way through every plate of pasta and cone of gelato placed before him. His first book, “Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family,” tells of his life in Italy while cooking with an Italian grandmother. He shares his food experiences on his blog at www.beyondthepasta.com and has taught cooking classes in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and across Alabama. While judging for high school culinary events, he was chosen by the US Department of Education to judge for their "National Education Startup Challenge." Mark can be regularly seen cooking on NBC-affiliate, WSFA-TV 12's "Alabama Live! each Friday, bringing easy, locally sourced recipes to central Alabama. His iTunes app “Beyond the Pasta” features helpful videos and more of Nonna’s family-style recipes that she shared with him, plus, upon its release, it was named “New & Noteworthy” by Apple. DaVinci Wines chose Mark as their "2012 Storyteller" in Language Arts—where they sent him to Vinci, Italy, to write about wine, food and life. Mark, his home and book have been featured in such national publications and blogs as House Beautiful, Paula Deen, Food Republic, The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, Field & Stream, and The Daily Meal. A Chicago-area native and “Yankee” by birth, Mark has lived in Alabama for over 24 years, and celebrates the fact that he started life eating farina, progressed to grits, and finally arrived at polenta. Buonissimo!View all posts by Mark Leslie →

"Beyond the Pasta" is owned and operated by Mark Leslie. Unless otherwise specified all content, writing, recipes and photography is original and held in copyright through the Library of Congress. It may not be used without the express written consent of Mark Leslie.