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Shared by Sara Pavoncello

Broccoli Soup with Pasta and Anchovy 

Yield: 8 servingsTime: 1 hour

Shared by Sara Pavoncello

Broccoli soup with pasta and anchovy in white serving bowl over white linen tablecloth with a cloth napkin, cup of white wine and pecorino cheese on the side.
Photographer: Armando Rafael. Food Stylist: Rebecca Jurkevich. Prop Stylist: Vanessa Vazquez.

Broccoli Soup with Pasta and Anchovy 

Yield: 8 servingsTime: 1 hour

Family Journey

Rome, Italy

When the Jews lived in the Roman ghetto, they weren’t allowed to buy large fish, so they made do with smaller ones like anchovies and sardines, explains Sara Pavoncello, a historian and tour guide who grew up right near the famed Jewish ghetto. Those ingredients continue to play a large role in Roman Jewish cuisine, lending savory touches to everything from vegetable dishes to this soup. A typical winter dish for the Jews of Rome, this recipe comes from Sara’s grandmother Speranza, who used to prepare it for Sara after school. If you can’t find romanesco, use regular broccoli. 

Read more about Sara’s family in “For Sara Pavoncello, Keeping Roman Jewish Traditions Alive Is an Honor” and try her recipes for vitello al forno, baccala with onion and tomato, and Roman Jewish carbonara.


  • 1 head of romanesco broccoli, stem cut off 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 7-8 anchovy filets
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 24 oz. smooth tomato puree
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • Black pepper, to taste  
  • 8 oz. pasta, such as dittalini or casarecce, or spaghetti, broken in half
  • Fresh parsley, finely chopped for garnish
  • Pecorino, for serving


  • Step 1

    Using your hands, remove broccoli crowns one by one. Rinse and set aside. If the leaves are still green and undamaged, wash them too.

  • Step 2

    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil and saute the garlic, anchovies, and chili flakes, until the anchovies have dissolved and the garlic is golden and fragrant. Add the tomato paste, stirring until bright red, around 1 minute.

  • Step 3

    Add the tomato puree and 5 cups of the water, along with the kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Once it comes to a boil, add in the broccoli.

  • Step 4

    Let the broccoli cook over low heat for about 35 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Using a fork, test to see if the broccoli is done.

  • Step 5

    When the broccoli has softened, add in the pasta and the remaining one cup of water. Stir together and cook for 10-15 minutes, on a low flame, stirring often, until the soup has thickened and pasta is fully cooked. Season to taste with more salt as needed. 

  • Step 6

    To serve: Drizzle the pasta mixture with olive oil, and sprinkle with fresh parsley and chili flakes. Shave fresh pecorino on top.