Tiny Pasta & Pea Soup

Adapted from Fine Cooking magazine, "Soups & Stews"
Serves 6
Any small soup style pasta, such as stelline, orzo, or acini di pepe, can be used in this soup.  If needed, the "battuto", an Italian version of a French "mirepoix", can be made without a food processor, by finely chopping the ingredients by hand.  Once cooked, the battuto becomes a "soffritto" & is an excellent flavor base for sauces & soups.

1 1/2 ounces prosciutto, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove of garlic, smashed
12 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 quarts low-sodium {or homemade} chicken stock
1/2 cup pastina {tiny star shaped pasta}
1/2 cup peas {fresh, or frozen}
1/2 cup tiny diced carrots
1/2 cup tiny diced fennel
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper {to taste}
lemon wedges & grated Parmesan {for serving}

Add the prosciutto, butter, onion, garlic & basil to the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until all the ingredients are finely chopped.  This mixture is called a battuto.  Heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat & add the battuto.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until everything gets soft, about 8-10 minutes. 
Pour in the chicken stock & bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer & stir in the pasta.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, or until the pasta is about half done.  Add the peas, carrots & fennel.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the vegetables & pasta are just tender.  Season the soup with a generous amount of kosher salt {or, to taste} & some freshly ground black pepper. 
Serve the soup with a squeeze of lemon & a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.
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