Spicy Fregula Soup with Clams
Fregula is an Italian pasta, similar to a large-grained couscous. This delicious soup can be made more soupy or thicker like a risotto by adding more or less chicken stock.
1 lb dried fregula
2 lbs very small clams (such as Manila clams)
1 large onion, halved and then thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
3 oz prosciutto (ask the deli for an 1/8 inch slice), diced
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup plain tomato sauce (from a can)
1/4 cup olive oil
Pinch of saffron threads
1/2 tsp hot red pepper flakes
Ground black pepper
Boil a large pot of well-salted water. Add the fregula and cook according to the package's directions, about 10 minutes.
While the fregula is cooking, in a large deep skillet or soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the prosciutto, garlic and onion until the onion is quite soft, about 7 minutes (but try to avoid browning since the garlic gets bitter). Add the clams, wine, chicken stock, tomato sauce, red pepper flakes and saffron to the pan and bring to a boil.
Quickly add the drained fregula when it is ready and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue simmering until you have the consistency you'd like: for a soupy broth, it should be ready after a few minutes; for a more risotto-like dish, it may take 10-15 minutes of simmering (you can also add less chicken stock to reduce this time).
Stir in the parsley and serve. (Remember to have a spare bowl for people to put their empty clam shells in.)
Serves 6 people as a hearty main course.
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