Peas and Potato Soup with Tarragon Pesto

Pesto is a perfect topping for a great green soup with escarole, peas, pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.


For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/4 pound pancetta or bacon, finely diced (optional)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 large starchy potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch dice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large head escarole, cleaned and chopped
  • A few grates of nutmeg
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup ditalini pasta

For the pesto :

  • 1 small bunch or package tarragon, leaves picked (about 3/4-1 cup, loosely packed)
  • A generous handful of flat leaf parsley
  • 3-4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts or shelled pistachio nuts
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or flattened into paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced (1 tablespoon)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • About 1/4-1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat with EVOO, a couple of turns of the pan. Add the pancetta, if using, onions and garlic. Stir occasionally for 3-4 minutes, then add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Add the escarole and season with nutmeg; cover the pan and let wilt for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock and water and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Adjust the salt and pepper, to taste, and let cool. Store for a make-ahead meal. To re-heat or eat today, bring the soup, covered, to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the peas and ditalini and cook to al dente, about 7-8 minutes. Turn off the heat and serve in shallow bowls garnished with pesto.

To make the pesto, put put the herbs into a food processor along with the nuts and grated garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, then add the lemon zest, EVOO and the cheese. Pulse into a coarse paste, then transfer the pesto to a storage container and drizzle the top with a thin layer of EVOO to retard browning. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature when ready to use.

What's Fresh from @RachaelRay

Rachael Ray