There’s a draft coming in from the base of our sliding door. Maybe we need more insulation or a new door but for now, my feet, under the kitchen table, are getting stone cold. It’s funny how a little line of insulation, filling in the tiniest crack, can make all the difference to making you fill warm and comfy.
Protection from those icy winds of January, at least the ones we have here in Canada, can mean the simplest of things. A good warm blanket, a crackling fire. And to keep your belly and toes warm, a hot bowl of Nonna’s secret weapon: pastina.
My baby boy isn’t old enough yet to appreciate this recipe, but no doubt he will learn it soon enough. The subtle broth and simple pasta make a bowl of goodness that every Italian kid knows well from deep winter nights and those days spent home from school with a cold. Plain enough that every kid will eat it and hearty enough that even adults crave it years later, pastina is as basic as it comes and every Nonna knows it well.
This cold draft is starting to give me the sniffles, so it’s off to the stove to warm up some of this myself. Feeling chilly? Try out the recipe yourself…
1 cup pasta, any tiny kind like stars, rice shapes, or the most typical: acini di pepe
4 cups chicken broth
1 cheese rind (optional)
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, to taste
Bring a pot of water to boil. When it comes to a boil, salt the water and add in the pasta. Cook the pasta as per package directions, minus three to four minutes.
At the same time, bring the broth to boil with the cheese rind in it, in a separate pot. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it (do not rinse) and add it to the boiling broth. The pasta is cooked separately to avoid making a starchy soup.
Boil the broth and pasta together for two to three minutes more. Remove the cheese rind and serve. Sprinkle grated cheese on top as desired.