Upgrade Pasta Soup To The Next Level By Toasting Your Noodles

various noodles
various noodles - Rudisill/Getty Images

Pasta soup is one of the ultimate comfort foods, and it can be made even cozier with a simple pasta cooking hack. Toasting noodles gives your pasta a richer flavor by enhancing its natural nuttiness and bringing a whole new level of warmth to soup. The technique elevates just about any dish, but it's especially great for long-simmered soup that's prone to resulting in mushy pasta. The extra crispy layer is basically a protective shield that prevents premature or excessive softening — and as a bonus —  it tastes heartier. Although the technique sounds self-explanatory, there are a few key things to consider.

First and foremost, you want to select the best pasta shape. Technically, any noodles work for soup, but smaller options have their benefits. Like a chopped salad or sandwich, smaller pasta shapes make it easy to scoop bites that feature every flavor. Plus, tiny pasta like orzo, fregola, stellette, and acini di pepe mix more homogeneously with the rest of the soup ingredients, so the earthy flavor infuses every drop. Not to mention, the little bits get faster face time with the heat when toasted. Other common choices for soup include spaghetti, gnocchi, fusilli, and tortellini, but anything can be toasted and added to soup for an upgraded taste and texture if you don't have traditional soup pasta on hand.

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How To Toast Pasta

various types of dried pasta
various types of dried pasta - Alvarez/Getty Images

Toasting methods and timing also play a big role. It's most efficient to toast pasta directly in the pot when making soup. It allows the nuttiness to linger. In a pot over medium heat, sauté vegetables and seasonings in oil for about five minutes, then add the pasta to toast until browned. Depending on the shape and thickness, pasta can take anywhere from six to 10 minutes to toast. Eight minutes should be the sweet spot for small pasta like orzo. Be sure to stir often to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning, no matter the shape.

If you don't have additional time to attend to pasta on the stove, you can also toast it in the oven or microwave. In fact, the oven is a surefire way to get an even toasting. Simply put the pasta on a baking sheet and stick it in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes (or until browned). In the microwave, eight ounces of pasta in two teaspoons of oil should take three to five minutes to toast at 50% power (occasionally stirred). Prepping your soup ingredients in advance? You can toast pasta up to two days before it's cooked, and it's best stored in the refrigerator inside a bag with water for rehydration. Whether you're making copycat Panera chicken noodle soup or sopa seca with vermicelli, toasted pasta is an elevation that's worth the extra preparation time.

Read the original article on Mashed