Spring Herbs Soup with Fregola and Pancetta


Inspired by s'erbuzzu, a classic Sardinian soup packed with more than a dozen varieties of herbs and spring greens, this recipe delivers big flavor with fresh parsley, tarragon, and chives. White beans, crispy bits of pancetta, and fregola sarda, tiny balls of dried semolina pasta, add heft; orzo or Israeli couscous are delicious substitutes. Stirring in a handful of tarragon, parsley, and chives just before serving this soup preserves the color and flavor of the delicate herbs.

Total Time:
45 mins


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil  

  • 4 ounces pancetta, finely diced

  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)  

  • .50 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste  

  • .50 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste  

  • .50 cup (4 ounce) dry white wine  

  • 1 ¼ cups uncooked fregola sarda, orzo, or Israeli couscous  

  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley stems plus 1 1/2 cups finely chopped parsley leaves, divided  

  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced  

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds  

  • .50 teaspoon crushed red pepper  

  • 8 cups lower-sodium chicken broth  

  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed  

  • .50 cup finely chopped fresh chives

  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh tarragon  

  • Finely grated pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish  

  • Lemon wedges, for serving  


  1. Heat oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium. Add pancetta; cook, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered, 4 to 6 minutes. Add onion, salt, and black pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 12 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has almost completely reduced, 4 to 5 minutes. Add fregola, parsley stems, garlic, fennel seeds, and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Add broth; bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, until fregola is al dente, 14 to 16 minutes (8 to 10 minutes for orzo or couscous).

  2. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cannellini beans; cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in chives, tarragon, and parsley leaves. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Garnish with pecorino Romano, and serve with lemon wedges.

Related Articles