Romanesco broccoli pasta soup

Romanesco broccoli pasta soup; recipe from Rome.

Romanesco broccoli pasta soup in blue and white soup bowl

Minestra di pasta e broccoli romani.

This Romanesco broccoli pasta soup had me at the first spoonful! It is tasty and warming and so perfect for the never-ending winter we are experiencing at the moment in Northern Italy! Once again Italian cuisine shows it’s mastery in taking simple seasonal ingredients and turning them into a dish you just can’t get enough of! I confess I had 2 bowls one after the other and would have had more, had there been room in my tummy!

(click to go straight to recipe)

Recipe origins

This recipe comes from Lazio, particularly Rome where traditionally it includes skate. This is a fish that’s not so easy to find here in Veneto, so I made it without which many people do. However the original recipe dates back to the times when Friday was a day of fasting. In poorer households, housewives would make a soup with the week’s leftover dried pasta (often a mix of different kinds) and skate, which was a actually a cheap and unappreciated fish. I have read that Romanesco broccoli was added to the soup to give it more taste!

Romanesco broccoli pasta soup ingredients

The Broccoli.

Romanesco broccoli, also known as Roman cauliflower, has actually been grown in Italy since the 16th century. So it’s not, as some people think, a cross between a cauliflower and broccoli. The fabulous bright chartreuse colour and  baroque ‘design’ described as a natural self-similar fractal make this member of the brassica family a really beautiful vegetable. What is a self-similar fractal you may ask! In simple layman’s terms, it’s the same pattern repeated over and over again in different sizes in something that each part looks the same as the whole object. You can read more on fractals in Wikipedia but in short Romanesco broccoli is a natural work of art!

Romanesco broccoli pasta soup prepared ingredients

However, Romanesco broccoli isn’t just good looking. It has a delicious slightly nutty and delicate flavour  and tastes a bit like something between cauliflower and broccoli. This also means it is great in both cauliflower and broccoli recipes.  Here in Italy, Romanesco broccoli is served as a side dish with main courses or eaten with pasta or made into soup; or, as in this recipe for Romanesco broccoli pasta soup, used in soup with pasta together.

Romanesco broccoli pasta soup ingredients in frying pan

The Pasta.

Nowadays the pasta used in this soup is either broken up spaghetti or soup pasta such as ditalini, which is what I used. However, you can use any small pasta. In the days when this soup was traditional Friday fare, pasta was often sold loose, not in packets, and the leftovers were used in soups like in this recipe. Today pasta is sold in packets, but most Italian pasta makers also sell packets of mixed pasta (pasta mista) which is popular for soups.

Romanesco broccoli pasta soup ingredients cooking in frying pan

Other ingredients for Romanesco broccoli pasta soup.

Apart from the pasta and the Romanesco broccoli, this recipe has only a few other ingredients. There are slightly different versions of this soup, as there are with many old Italian recipes. Generally when made with skate this soup also includes carrot, celery and onion which are used with the skate to make a broth first. In this much simpler version, the only other ingredients are potato, anchovies, fresh chili pepper, garlic and tomatoes. The pasta can be cooked in the soup or separately. I cooked it in the soup which I think also makes it slightly thicker because of the starch from the pasta.

Romanesco broccoli pasta soup in blue and white bowl

If you have never eaten this unusual vegetable, then this Romanesco broccoli pasta soup  is a great introduction to it.  Although another great way to eat it is raw as a crudité. It makes for a great conversation starter as most guests are unlikely to have eaten it before! Then you can show off your knowledge and explain fractals to them!

Buon Appetito!

(to see the recipe, scroll down and click 2)

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  • Avatar
    Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness
    March 6, 2018 12:54 am

    This looks delicious! I love a good soup recipe, and romanesco broccoli is so pretty!!

    • admin
      March 7, 2018 8:34 am

      Grazie Cathleen! Yes this is a super soup! Healthy, tasty and, as you say, the romanesco looks so pretty! What more can you ask for in a soup? Greetings from Verona! Jacqui

  • Avatar
    Katie Crenshaw | A Fork’s Tale
    March 4, 2018 2:18 pm

    I have never had Romanesco Broccoli, but I am dying to try it now. This recipe looks lovely. It is a perfect soup for these cold windy days we have been having. I am going to make this meal for dinner next week. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • admin
      March 7, 2018 8:43 am

      Grazie di cuore as the Italians say Katie! Romanesco broccoli is a pretty amazing veg; tasty, healthy and beautiful to look at! I’m sure you’ll love this soup! Greetings from Verona! Jacqui

  • Avatar
    March 3, 2018 8:55 pm

    Whoaaa! Such a cool recipe. I remember the first time I encountered Romanesco Broccoli, I had no idea what to do with it haha. Thank you for this recipe.. as soon as these are back in season here I will give it a go!

    • admin
      March 4, 2018 5:55 am

      Thank you from Verona Jen! I’m sure you’ll love this recipe when you try it! So delicious, warming and comforting! All the best Jacqui

  • Avatar
    Sara | Real Balanced
    March 3, 2018 4:27 pm

    This looks sooo delicious!! Romanesco is such a beautiful food!

    • admin
      March 4, 2018 5:57 am

      Grazie Sara! Yes this is a super soup and the Romanesco does give it a wonderful flavour! Really a beautiful food in every way! Wishing you a lovely Sunday from Verona! Jacqui

  • Avatar
    March 2, 2018 2:15 pm

    I haven’t tried Romanesco broccoli yet, but I love everything about pasta so I would definitely love to give a try!

    • admin
      March 4, 2018 6:07 am

      I’m sure you’d love Romanesco broccoli Ilana! And it works so well in this delicious soup! Hope you get to try it! Greetings from Verona! Jacqui

  • Avatar
    Brian Jones
    March 2, 2018 7:26 am

    That sounds delicious, I can image skate working really well with this, although I am biased as I thing skate goes with everything 😀

    • admin
      March 4, 2018 6:04 am

      Thanks a lot Brian! This is really a super soup. I also want to try it with skate. Difficult to find where I live though! Buona Domenica from Verona! Jacqui

  • Avatar
    March 1, 2018 8:12 pm

    I first saw Roman cauliflower when I was on my honeymoon a few years ago! We were in Oregon, not Italy, but it was so beautiful to see! This recipe looks so good! I’m going to add it to my dinner pinterest board!

    • admin
      March 4, 2018 6:09 am

      Grazie di cuore as the Italians say Lisa! Romanesco broccoli is really a fab food! Beautiful and tasty. I’m sure you’ll love this soup if you try it! Have a lovely! Sunday Jacqui

  • Avatar
    March 1, 2018 4:55 pm

    Love pasta and this is a great recipe to incorporate romanesco!

    • admin
      March 4, 2018 6:10 am

      Thanks Amanda! Yes the Romanesco works so well in this tasty and warming soup! I love it! All the best from bella Italia! Jacqui

  • Avatar
    March 1, 2018 2:18 pm

    Such a hearty soup! Romanesco is my favorite “cauliflower”, its taste is mild, the florets are softer than cauliflower, really delicious and as you mentioned also delicious as a crudité. I’m certain my husband and son would love this gorgeous soup!

    • admin
      March 4, 2018 6:13 am

      Thanks so much Patty! I love Romanesco too! It certainly adds a wonderful flavour to this soup! I’m sure your family will love it if you make it! Have a lovely Sunday dear! Jacqui

  • Avatar
    February 27, 2018 6:48 pm

    Thank you for sharing the recipe, I hope to find the broccoli or seeds to grow my own. It looks delicious.

    • admin
      February 28, 2018 1:47 pm

      Hi Karen, I’m happy you like this recipe. Hopefully you’ll be able to find or grow this amazing broccoli and make the recipe. It’s delicious! All the best from Verona! Jacqui

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