Campanelle Pasta and Peas in Broth with Smoked Ham...and seasonal doldrums

Spring is being marked all over the country.  We have certainly noticed all of the lovely telltale signs here in the south.  But, as the little roots are pushing their way up through the cold soil, the grass is changing from a wintry umber to a soft pale green, and the beautiful tiny cherry blossoms are about to spring open, this inbetween time feels like a challenge this year.

Everyone is waiting for time to reveal plans for our family.  Everyone is fidgety ~ to get outside to plant, move, travel. It seems we each have some events in our lives that are keeping us watching the clock and trying to nudge the time on a bit.

I have definitely fallen into the doldrums of early Spring.  I am impatient at this time of year.  I yearn for something to happen...for change...for new challenges to throw my raw energy into with fervor.

We've had recent colds that have kept us under the weather ~ adding to the tick tock of the clock.  A fair share of hot chocolates (with a few marshmallows to sweeten those doldrums) have been poured out.

It was Patrick's turn to pick out a soup from "the big soup book".  We were all certainly grateful for his choice of a nice pasta soup with peas in a light broth flavored with ham.

Soups always seems to cure the doldrums as well as the sniffles.

We're doing a fair amount of waiting around here.  M. is waiting for news on colleges.  P. is waiting for news on hopeful career positions.  And I am hit strongest at this time of year to

Not another bath time!  No!
The doldrums even hit poor little Chester.  This little guy is getting a few more baths at this time of year than he would prefer.  With the periods of on and off rain, he is also waiting ~ for the end of so many recurring bath times.

We have a new baby to see.  We have a niece who will marry.  Exciting travel ahead of us in a few months to celebrate these occasions.

But destinations like Istanbul and Morocco are tugging at my adventure loving side.  It seems like every other email in my 'inbox' is touting travel specials and spurring on my desire to travel.

I want to stop watching documentaries about tea farms in China and soups in small villages in Bulgaria.  I want to experience these places first hand, peer into the faces of the people who live there and search for whatever it is that I am searching for that makes me fidgety and restive.

Restless.  Always restless I see and experience the world as it spins on.  

Campanelle Pasta and Peas in Broth with Smoked Ham
(serves 4-6)

2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup roughly chopped smoked bacon or pancetta
1 small onion, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
3 1/2 cups peas
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 quart chicken stock
11 ounces campanelle pasta
about 1/3 cup chopped smoked ham
salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Add the pancetta or bacon, onion, and celery and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.

Add the peas and cook, stirring for 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste, parsley, stock, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil.  Cover the pan, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.  

Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning.  Drop in the pasta, stir, and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente.  Stir in the smoked ham.  Serve hot in warm bowls, with grated Parmesan handed around.

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