For a tastier pasta, toast the noodles.

For a tastier pasta, toast the noodles.

A great way to add flavor to a pasta dish is to toast the noodles in oil, which brings out nutty notes that add complexity to the end result. And a great example of this lesson is the dry soup, which translates to “dry soup” from Spanish.

This Mexican dish typically features thin, cracked noodles that are roasted and then cooked with broth and tomatoes. The noodles absorb the liquid, producing a paste that is “dry”, but rich in soup flavors. And the toasted pasta creates a rich nutty base and a unique texture to the finished dish.

For the version of our book, “Milk Street Tuesday Nights,” which limits recipes to 45 minutes or less, we opted to use pumpkin instead of tomatoes. Pumpkin adds a nice sweetness and pairs really well with seasonings, transforming the dish into a hearty meal for fall or winter.

The avocado and queso fresco add a creaminess that goes well with the mouth-watering pasta, and the coriander and lime juice balance out the nutty flavor of the pasta. Although this recipe uses chicken broth, switching to veggies will make it vegetarian, and just as good.

Dry Soup with Zucchini

Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

12 ounces angel hair pasta, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 pounds pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch chunks (4 cups)

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped tender stems, leaves chopped and kept separate

4 garlic cloves, minced

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1½ teaspoons sweet paprika

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

5 cups low sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons lime juice (2 to 3 limes)

4 ounces fresh cheese, crumbled, to serve

1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced, for serving

5 chives, thinly sliced, to serve

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add pasta and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside. Clean the pot.

In a medium bowl, toss the pumpkin with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 2 teaspoons of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the squash. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash begins to brown and is almost tender, about 4 minutes. Add the onion, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the coriander stalks, garlic, cumin, paprika, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the toasted pasta and broth, then bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until pasta is al dente and has absorbed most of the liquid, about 7 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and half of the coriander leaves. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls and serve topped with the remaining cilantro leaves, avocado, queso fresco, and chives.


EDITOR’S NOTE: For more recipes, visit Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at

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