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Scallops & Pancetta in Saffron Broth

Apr 15, 2015 04:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Rhea’s Rundown

This soup achieves a decadent depth of flavor in only 30 minutes or less. The broth is a simple combination of white wine, shallots, saffron threads, sherry, and a touch of butter. For an even richer version you can add half a cup of heavy cream. To cut down on preparation Whole Foods has a convenient package of diced pancetta in their packaged deli meat section. Fun fact: pancetta is the Italian cousin of bacon, and while both are made from pork belly, pancetta is not smoked. Shrimp and/or calamari make great substitutions in lieu of scallops. You can find the saffron threads in the international and spice aisle of Whole Foods. Tip: to achieve a nice golden crust on the scallops be sure to pat them dry beforehand and sear over high heat.

Ingredients – Serves 4
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 3 oz sliced pancetta, diced
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 large sea scallops
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chervil or parsley


1. Using your fingers, gently crush the saffron into a small bowl and add the white wine. Set aside.

2. In a large, heavy pot, cook the pancetta over medium-high heat, stirring often, until golden, about 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Set aside.

3. Add the butter and shallots to the pot and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sherry and cook until the liquid evaporates, about 4 minutes. Add the saffron-wine mixture and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper.

4. Warm a frying pan over high heat. Toss the scallops with the oil and season with salt and pepper. When the frying pan is very hot, add the scallops and sear on the one side until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Flip the scallops and cook until lightly browned on the other side, 1-2 minutes.

5. Ladle the broth into shallow bowls. Place 3 scallops in each bowl, sprinkle with the reserved pancetta and chervil, and serve.

*For a creamy version, stir in ½ cup heavy cream after reducing the heat to low and before seasoning with salt and pepper.

McMillan, Kate “Scallops & Pancetta in Saffron Broth.” Soup of the Day: 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year. Weldon Owen, Inc. 2011. Print.

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