Passatelli (or, as we called them, pasta tai): Italian Lemon Noodle Soup

December 28, 2009 Intense Flavors by Carole Brighenti
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Marches region of Italy

Where all those Marchegians come from.

This is a very tasty Marchegian dish.  The Marches live on the eastern side of central Italy, between the Adriatic Sea and the high Apennine mountains.  Marches are known for their simple, but unique and tasty cuisine; however, they have been known to add rabbit, squirrel, and other little critters to their Polentas, so you would be well advised to hide your cats (i.e., Polenta Gatta) whenever a Marche is around. 

As a child, my husband would visit the Marchegian Club in New Britain, Connecticut since two of his uncles were born in that region of Italy.  There the Marchegians would feature a serving of Passatelli (or what they would colloquially call pasta tai) with the meals served at weddings, get togethers, and other family gatherings.   Mary Bessoni of the Bessoni Brothers, a construction firm located in New Britain, and Barbara Armentano, my husband’s cousin, were kind enough to give my husband this recipe.  It is truly a family heirloom.

Passatelli is a peppery lemon soup of noodles made from bread crumbs.  My husband’s mother used to make it, and he always asks me at Thanksgiving and Christmas time to make it.  The noodles are surprising tasty:  in fact, my husband eats them raw as soon as I make them, because he loves their taste so much.

4 to 6 cups Italian bread crumbs

Zest of 8 lemons

6 T grated cheese

1 T salt

2 T pepper

7  jumbo eggs

Put bread crumbs in large bowl.  Add grated cheese, salt and pepper.  Mix all above ingredients together with hands.  Add eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly each time until you can feel the mixture sticking together without being sticky.  Shape into baseballs and grind noodles about 3 inches long.  Separate noodles on wax paper and let set 2 hours before adding them to chicken soup.  Cook 1/2 hour or until tender.


Entry Filed under: Italian,Recipes

18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. William Brighenti, CPA  |  February 17, 2010 at 12:40 am

    A favorite dish of mine, especially around the holidays. It’s the best soup in the entire world! Try it. You will agree.

  • 2. Dolores Rossi  |  March 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    My father made this every New Years day. My brother would call it “worm soup” because my father would run the mixture through a meat grater and make long “noodles”. A great memory of my younger years.

    • 3. Intense Flavors by Carole Brighenti  |  March 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm

      Hi Dolores,

      My parents and relatives used an attachment on the meat grater that would create crescent shaped noodles.

      We always enjoyed this delicious soup dish on the holidays, starting on Thanksgiving.

      Might I inquire in what region of Italy did your father’s ancestors live? Much of the cuisine in Italy is regional.

      Thank you for sharing your warm holiday memories.

      William Brighenti, CPA
      Accountants CPA Hartford, Connecticut, LLC

      The Barefoot Accountant

      • 4. Dolores Rossi  |  April 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm

        Hi William. My family is from Fano, they always told us kids we were from Marchegian. My father, grandmother and aunts would make delicious food out of anything..pigs feet, chicken necks, chick pea soup (all it was made of was chick peas, olive oil and some rosemary) delicious..they called is chichi soup. Also every Easter we would make Quercia bread..a heavy cheese and black pepper bread (this they treated as gold and would only pass out small slivers to the I am still researching and plan to visit in the next few years my relatives that still live in Italy.

      • 5. Dee Lutsky  |  March 15, 2013 at 3:33 am

        My Father was from Fano, the Marches..we were always told we were from marchegian but after research I find that is what they call all Italians from the Marche regions…still doing research as I plan a 2015 trip to Italy.

    • 6. Intense Flavors by Carole Brighenti  |  March 15, 2013 at 1:06 am

      Dolores, please share your recipe for Quercia bread. Easter is March 31st, and we would love to make it! Please send it to us and we will post it for other paisons and non-paisons.

      Thank you!

      • 7. Dee Lutsky  |  March 15, 2013 at 2:28 am

        Recipe for Quercia Bread

        Step 1: mix 5 cups of grated parm/romano cheese with 8 cups of flour, 1 tbls black pepper, 2 tsp salt. put aside

        Step 2: Beat 12 large eggs with wire wisk (or fork, that’s what it says) add: 1 cup melted butter and 1/2 cup of olive oil

        Step 3: 4 yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water, add one tsp of sugar.

        Step 4: add yeast to eggs and shortening then add that to the dry mix.

        Knead for 10 minutes (not any longer).

        Put in greased pan, pan should be tall but not wide. the mixture should come up to 1/3 or pan. Let rise until it is 2/3 of the pan.

        Bake 350 for one hour (?)..or when you slap the bread it should sound hollow…GOOD LUCK.

        Note: I wrote this just as it says on the old recipe, I have made this and it take along time to rise, the bread is very very heavy. But it does.

        I have taken off the handles on a tall pot that I have and used that to bake the worked sweet.

  • 8. Eddie Grestini  |  July 28, 2012 at 6:35 am

    hi everybody. your comments made me think of home in new haven, ct. my folks were members of the marchegian club there where some of the finest dishes were prepared. I haven’t thought of quercia bread in years and my favorite dish pasta tai. we also used to eat snails and i think we called them lumocks if i’m spelling it correctly. there was a safety pin next to our silverware so we knew they were on the menu. tasted great. thanks for the trip down memory lane eddie grestini

  • 9. maggiesview  |  December 20, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    Hi Delores! My Marchegian family didn’t use the lemons, but it sounds delis! I have my Noni’s crescia (quercia) recipe… I love the old time directions…”a glass of olive oil”… A GLASS!? Thanks for posting and keeping the Marche traditions!

    • 10. Dee Lutsky  |  March 15, 2013 at 2:53 am

      I don’t know about your Noni’s “glass” but my Nonni and my dad had a “oil glass” …”no no drink from thata glass, it’sa for my oleeeeeve oila”…lol…

      • 11. Dee Lutsky  |  March 15, 2013 at 3:00 am

        Speaking of Nonni’s, when we were little every sunday morning my father would take us all out to make the rounds to family..when we would get to Nonni’s house we knew that we would smell spaghetti sauce..she would leave the end crusts of italian bread in a low draw and a step stool next to the stove..we would run in the kitchen and grab “only ona” piece of hard bread push the stool over to the stove with Nonni looking on, and soak the bread…we use to call it “soaky bread”

  • 12. Janine Marchionni-Smith  |  February 26, 2013 at 5:15 am

    My grandparents were from Fossebrome, Italy, provence of Marche. Their recipe was similar with less lemon zest, and a little bit of olive oil and crushed garlic. I still make it my grandparent’s way as it brings back fond memories. Thank you for this posting!

  • 13. Ann Marchionni  |  February 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    My dad, Brandino Marchionni loved pasa tai in his soup. I too grew up in New Britain with tales of our Marchegian heretage and foods. No one made chicken cacciatore like my grandfather.

  • 14. Dee Lutsky  |  March 14, 2013 at 5:05 am

    ahhhh, thank you all for the wonderful trip down memory lane. Those were the days and that was the life. Every Sunday my whole family, Aunts, Uncles, cousins would get together for big pasta dinners and laughter. My Dad would make polanta and put sauce on it (like that would make us kids like it) and we had to finish our plate or “no outside for you” brother struggled everytime we had this dish.

  • 15. Dee Lutsky  |  March 15, 2013 at 2:55 am

    So you are not confused…My maiden/birth name is Dolores Rossi, but I am married and in high school my friends started calling me Dee and it stuck…so Dolores alas Dee….ciao.

  • 16. Dee Lutsky  |  March 15, 2013 at 3:02 am

    I was five years old when my father taught me how to roll the gnocci. “two fingers, roll towards you..see the curl..perfecto bella “..I would stand on a chair so I could reach the counter..Dad would roll the dough into the “snake” and cut the inch pieces and I would roll them and put them on a floured towel and let them dry until it was time to go in the boiling water…I hope you all have the same memories, they are keepers.

  • 17. jim dezi  |  July 23, 2013 at 1:22 am

    my family is also from the provence of Marche. my children and I make pasatelli to this day,however we prefer equal amounts of bread crumbs and parm cheese. we also don’t use nearly that amount of lemon zest. It’s all a matter of personal taste. Crescia is still made by my sister pat altadonna and our cousin linda Sylvia. My thoughtful sister sends me a loaf or two at easter. Easter breakfast consists of the crescia,hard boiled eggs with fresh ground horseradish, and kielbasa..ummm my mouth is watering..

  • 18. Vivian Carloni Reilly  |  January 2, 2015 at 3:59 am

    we always used half cheese and half bread crumbs and the zest of one lemon and some grated nutmeg.
    We also made the quercia, never heard it called that. We called it crescia di Pasqua.
    My Dad was from Cartoceto and my Mom was from Lucrezia. Both towns near Fano.Lets not forget delicious capelletti in homemade chicken broth.

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