August 06

Pesto Potato Soup

Potato Pesto SoupOur diets waiver back and forth between great and terrible. I desperately want to make dinner every night, with enough leftovers to provide lunch for both of us the next day, and to be healthy when it comes to eating. Alas, after 3 or 4 days of being frugal with my grocery bill and dinner output, I’m tired and I want junk food. It inevitably happens on a Thursday night, when we have giant bake days at work, and I can barely shuffle to the bathroom, let alone make dinner. I’ve tried to combat that happening by tossing ingredients in the crockpot or having some freezer meal in the fridge, thawing while I’m at work, so it takes the guesswork out of dinner, but sometimes I’m just a slacker. Plain and simple.

Today started my five billionth attempt at making dinner at home, trying to use up what ingredients we have instead of rushing out to buy things we don’t need. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make for us to eat. I have a plethora of zucchini from the garden I need to use up before they start going south. But nothing sounded appetizing. Or it required baking. It’s 80º outside and I’m NOT turning on the oven. You couldn’t pay me to. In fact, while making tonight’s dinner, I had to have the window and back door open (letting in flies… yay!) and move a fan into the door way from the den just to circulate ample air. It was nasty in there and I only had the stove top on! The main reason is that the kitchen gets directly hit by the late afternoon/setting sun and even without the appliances on, it gets ugly hot in there. The unbearable heat is another reason why it’s so much easier to grab a quick bite to eat elsewhere than make our own food. I don’t mind sweating when I’m working out; I’m not a fan of sweaty thighs and sweaty underboob when I’m standing still. I’m sure you won’t disagree.

So anyway, I have this book. Actually, I have a couple by Parragon Books, who have put out visual step-by-step cookbooks that I really kind of love. I don’t need step-by-step help, but the photos are fantastic and their choice of foods to highlight in the books are awesome. I have one on baking and one on Italian. Tonight’s dinner is obviously from the latter. The original recipe called for pancetta, and at one point in time, I had some in my freezer. But it was leftovers from a year and a half ago when I made pasta sauce, and it was looking pretty frostbitten and old when I tossed it 3 months ago. I could have easily made this without any meat additions, but the remainder of shrimp I had sitting in the freezer was calling out to me. We love shrimp and pesto together, so this had to be a winning combination as well, right? Right!

It is an incredibly simple recipe and it takes just a wee bit of time since you have to let it simmer for 10-15 minutes at one point and then in 5 minute increments. Still not that long, either. With making soups in the past, I’ve found that they just don’t taste as good if they haven’t had half a day to cook and simmer, but for as short of a time as it takes, it tasted like it spent all day stewing.

Pesto Potato Soup

source: Step-By-Step Italian, Parragon Books/Love Food [Potato and Pasta Soup with Pesto]


1 pound floury potatoes
3 slices pancetta
1 pound shrimp, tail removed and cut small
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup onions, finely chopped
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
3.5 ounces pasta, uncooked
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons parsely, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons pesto
shaved Parmesan (optional)


1. Peel and finely chop the potatoes.

2. If using pancetta, cook in a large saucepan over medium heat for about 4 minutes. If using shrimp, or no meat at all, add oil to the saucepan and heat. Add shrimp, potatoes, and onions at the same time and begin stirring constantly for about 10 minutes.

3. Add the chicken stock and milk to the slightly tender potatoes and other ingredients. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Add the pasta and simmer for 3-5 minutes. The pasta will not be cooked all the way through, which is okay.

5. Stir in the cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the parsley, pesto, salt, and pepper, stir well, and let simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve up with the Parmesan topping it off.