It's A Keeper: Creamy Sweet Pea and Pancetta Soup and Fontina and Roasted Red Peppers Paninis

Hello, my name is Madeline and I am addicted to soup and sammies. Anyone want to start a support group with me?

A good soup and sammy are just so satisfying that when I don't feel like thinking about what to make, I just find a good soup and sammy recipe. Since I recently received 2, 4, 6, 8: Great Meals for Couples or Crowds, I decided to go there for my soup and sammy inspiration. I picked a menu from the Meals for 2 section entitled Soup and Sammy Night. See? She doesn't help my addiction.

On a sidenote, I have to say this is a great cookbook - it goes back to my favorite format of entire meals instead of individual recipes. This takes all the guesswork out of it for me, which I appreciate! Each recipe also has a "Game Plan" that tells you the order to make the recipes. Each recipe also has a little introductory paragraph that tells a story or makes a suggestion.

Okay, so here's both recipes (2 servings each) with my comments in brackets:

Creamy Sweet Pea and Pancetta Soup

1 tablespoon EVOO
4 thick slices pancetta, chopped [No thick slices in my store, so I just stacked up the thin slices pieces into little stacks and cut them that way. They sorta stayed together.]
1 small onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
Leaves from 3 to 4 fresh thyme leaves
2 cups chicken stock
1 10-ounce box frozen peas
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese [I had to hunt for it, but it was in the specialty cheese case near the mozzarella.]
Salt and black pepper

Heat a medium sauce pot over medium-high heat with the EVOO, once around the pan. Add the pancetta and cook it until it's crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pancetta and drain it on a paper towel. Return the pot to the stove over medium heat, then add the onions, garlic, and thyme leaves and cook, stirring frequently for five minutes. Add the chicken stock and turn the heat up to high. When the stock boils, reduce it to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the peas and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor [I just used my fancy hand blender] along with the mascarpone and puree until it is smooth. Do this in batches in order to avoid any messy mishaps.

Return the soup to the pot. To thicken it, turn the heat back on and reduce to the desired consistency, 3 to 5 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Serve the soup topped with the crispy pancetta.

Fontina, Olive and Roasted Red Pepper Paninis

1 roasted red pepper [At my store, they have an olive bar thingy where you can buy just one roasted red bell pepper. Otherwise, they usually sell them near the pickles and other jarred peppers.]
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
A small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley
A couple pinches of red pepper flakes
4 slices fontina cheese, 4 to 6 ounces total
4 slices good-quality crusty bread [I used sliced sourdough.]

Preheat a panini press, medium skillet, or grill pan over medium heat. [I use my George Foreman Grill for this.]

Slice the roasted red pepper into strips, then pile them together on a cutting board with the olives, and parsley leaves. Run your knife through the mixture to coarsely chop them together. Season the mixture with some red pepper flakes.

Place a slice of fontina cheese on each of 2 bread slices, then top each sandwich with an equal amount of the red pepper and olive mixture. Cover with a second slice of cheese and top with the remaining bread slices.

If you are using a sandwich press, place the sammies in the machine and press. For the skillet or grill pan method, add the paninis to the pan, place a piece of foil on top of the sandwiches, and press with a full tea kettle, another pan weighted with cans, or a garden brick. Brown and crust the sandwiches, about 2 minutes on each side; cut and serve.

Here are a few more pics so that you will actually believe how yummy this was:


  1. Both of these recipes sound very tasty! Especially the panini. I really need to start making paninis - they are so versitle and so easy.

    Question for you: do you ever substitute the ingredients in an RR recipe? I find that sometimes her ingredient list is really long and/or contains a small quantity of an expensive ingredient I might have trouble finding another use for. I'm just curious because I find myself skipping over recipes that sound really tasty but have this problem.

  2. Home Cook - yeah, I switch stuff all the time, but I usually use all the ingredients in one form or another. Most of my subs are because of health reasons (like whole wheat pasta) or because I just don't like whatever the ingredient is, so I leave it out (like olives).

    Garrett - I felt like I actually knew how to cook. It was crazy.


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