When conversations get surreal: potato and saffron soup with pancetta croutons

Potato, saffron and pancetta soup

A couple of days ago Stefano was getting ready to go to work and he told me that I must have done something wrong with the laundry because his pants felt tighter.

Now, you can tell me anything (because any human being is entitled to their opinion!), you can even offend me but you cannot, and I underline “cannot”, tell me that I did something wrong with my laundry!!!

I modestly like to think of myself as the “Pavlova of the Laundry”! 😉 Let’s not even talk about the time it took me to find just the right detergents that would satisfy me. I can spend hours in the detergent and cleaners aisle and every time I see a new product I get pretty much as excited as when I see a designer’s new collection!

Let’s talk about the process: every stain is pre-treated, loads are divided by fabric and color, every washer cycle is carefully selected, the dryer is reluctantly used (we do not use dryers in Italy and I wouldn’t dream of putting an item that I bought in my country in the dryer – it simply wouldn’t survive) and everything gets ironed. Yes! Everything including sheets, towels, underwear and socks. That’s how Italian houses roll (or should roll) and mine is no exception. 😉

Potato, saffron and pancetta soup

Now you see what I mean when I say that there can’t possibly be anything wrong with my laundry? The ugly truth? Stefano has put some weight on and he is in total denial!

And what do you do when someone is in denial? Desperate times call for desperate measures! I cut all the fatty dishes out and I declared soup season open! Soups are fantastic and when you want to lose some weight, they really can do magic. They are low on calories yet healthy, very satisfying to your stomach and, above all, delicious!

Last night Stefano was particularly famished, so I decided to make some potato soup with a twist. I played with some saffron and the result was fantastic. The saffron really complements the potatoes and the pancetta croutons are really the cherry on the cake! 🙂

So that’s how I did it! 😉


6 Potatoes, cut into cubes
1/4 Cup, extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 Cup, chopped pancetta
1/3 Cup, finely chopped spring onion
2 Cups, vegetable stock
1 and 1/2 Sachet, powdered saffron
2 Tbsp, Mascarpone cheese
1 Cup, Milk
Ground white pepper


Potato, saffron and pancetta soupIn a non-stick medium/large pot, heat 1/3 cup of olive oil, add the pancetta and fry, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta gets golden and crispy.
Remove the pancetta from the pot and place it on some paper towel so it can lose the excess oil.

In the same olive oil where you fried the pancetta, place the spring onion and cook until it softens. Add the potatoes, the stock, some salt and white pepper (to taste) and toss to coat. Cook, stirring often, for about 20 minutes. Eventually, the potatoes will turn kind of mushy and the stock will almost completely evaporate. Add 1 sachet of saffron and toss to coat until the mixture gets a vibrant yellow color.

Transfer the soup to a food processor or a blender. Add the mascarpone, the rest of the olive oil and the milk and blend until it is smooth and creamy.

Return the soup to the pot and, on low heat, cook for a few minutes, stirring often.

Pour the soup into two serving bowls or plates, add some fried pancetta on top and garnish with some powdered saffron.

Will Stefano manage to lose some weight? Only time will tell! 😉


About Francesca

I am a cook and the founder and art director of Flora's Table, the fine cooking and wine blog. Check us out at www.florastable.com :-)
This entry was posted in Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to When conversations get surreal: potato and saffron soup with pancetta croutons

  1. Mary says:

    This is a fun post Francesca. Loved the section on Italian household and laundry/ironing, it will be some time before I iron sheets(lol, I could see that one), but I’ll bet they feel great when you first get into bed. Poor Stefano, yes I dare say he’ll start loosing some of the weight just no doubt about it – could be all your good cooking, or all the fine wines he engages in. The soup, btw, looks delicious and I’m going to be trying this beauty.

  2. Ema Jones says:

    Healthy and tasty meal!

  3. ladyredspecs says:

    My husband has a theory. He believes his clothes shrink while they’re hanging in the closet! Delicious soup BTW

  4. If I ever go on a diet I want you to cook for me! What a wonderful soup. When in denial I’ve found that in certain shops sizes come up bigger so I’m happier when I find something in those and am able to buy the ‘smaller’ size of the two I straddle. Yes I’m in denial too sometimes 🙂

    • Francesca says:

      I’ll be happy to ease the pain! 😜
      I’m in denial every time I gain weight. I always try to find some excuse to justify the extra weight telling myself that’s totally temporary. It takes some time before I take the bull (aka fat) from the horns! 😘

  5. Excellent post. Love the recipe. Tell stefano, less wine and more excercise too. Just two words for him: Bike Rides!!!

  6. Oh Francesca, this post is too funny! Maybe more so because Matt has put on a little weight lately and his pants are tight as well! I’m sure that with your marvelous cooking Stefano will drop his weight in no time. Especially if all your soups sound as tasty as this one 🙂

    • Francesca says:

      I remember Stefano put some weight on too during the first year of our marriage. Maybe it’s the first year curse! 😉 Oh well! After 16 years, Stefano is still trying to lose some of that weight! 😉 Thank you, dear Heather!

  7. Well. I don’t know how Stefano could blame your laundry skills? I would say poor Stefano having to eat soup, but by the look of your recipe he is still eating like a king. Nice to know I am not the only one who irons everything.

    • Francesca says:

      Right Maria? I’ll tell him! 😉 I think Italians and Greeks have the “ironing culture” in common! I think that also people from the South America belong to our … tribe! 😉

      • Really!! I don’t know any South Americans! but if I ever meet one I will be sure to ask them about their ‘ironing culture’!! In fact I am racking my brains – if I do know anyone from SA.

  8. sabine says:

    So funny! And I´m very impressed on your laundry expertise, I won´t tell you how ironing works in my house 🙂
    Whatever the reason that Stefano and his pants are no longer compatible, I think it could get worse on the dieting front than having a gorgeous saffron soup!

  9. Zoale.com says:

    It is much easier to blame the clothes 🙂 I must say….dieting can’t be too hard for him with food like this! The soup looks absolutely divine ❤

  10. This looks delicious!!! Thank you for sharing. I’m going to attempt to make the soup this week! 🙂

  11. Cecilia says:

    I love saffron – with just everything possible. Your recipe sounds just great, I will try it. Thanks for sharing.

  12. The soup sounds great!

  13. I am impressed by your laundry skills Francesca ;). I hope you will keep us posted on Stefano’s progress. And btw that soup sounds delicious. 😉

  14. Francesca says:

    Thank you, B.! So far … not much to report but hope is the last thing to die! 😉

  15. Today, I ironed for 2 hours. And, I felt this story, and also need to go on soup regiment. 😉
    Simple and yet you made it into a decadent soup. As always, delectable recipe, and gorgeous photos.

  16. Francesca, I love this post but I love more your succulent soup 🙂

  17. Fabulous post Francesca! Not sure if I should feel bad for laughing… or not!? 😉 I will be forever impressed by your laundry regime – hmmm, it’s kind of a little different from my own regime, particularly in the ironing department, but I’m with you on not using the dryer if possible… everything lasts a LOT longer!
    Such a beautiful soup which I look forward to trying sometime soon – it’s become quite cold here in the last 2 days, so already I’m craving this kind of heart-warming meal! M.xx

    • Francesca says:

      Don’t feel bad, M.! I’m happy you found it hilarious! 😉 Plus, anyone has their own regime in their house and if it works for them it works for me too! 😉
      It is still pretty cold here too! I can’t take it anymore!

  18. I am so sorry to be late in commenting on this gorgeous soup. Your laundry prowess and eccentricities must be legend. Have to laugh about Stefano though, back to that soup, I love it, it looks velvety and the flavor from the saffron must be amazing. Beautiffully done Francesca.

  19. Francesca says:

    Thank you, Suzanne! Yes, some of my friends think I’m completely out of my mind but I grew up with a mother exactly like me!!! Landry obsession runs in the family! 😋

  20. Mary Frances says:

    You post such beautiful photos. This looks so delicious and comforting-perfect for a rainy day like today!

  21. polianthus says:

    Love the Italian household story – and the story of the laundry – I suspect the Italian household laundry perfection is only true when women are doing the laundry though – based on some experience on this front

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