Monday, February 9, 2015

Zuppa di Pasta e Fagoli

Zuppa di Pasta e Fagoli
(Italian White Bean Soup)
serves 8
In my family Pasta e Fagoli comes in two varieties, the one I grew up with which more resembles a macaroni sauced with a thick, starchy bean sauce and this version which is an actual soup.
                                                                                      Prep time: 20 minutes
                                                                                      Cook time: 40 minutes
                                                                                      Total time: 1 hour


                                  ¾ to 1 cup Maccheroncelli or Ditalini pasta (small tube shaped macaroni)

                                  1 tablespoon bacon grease
                                  1/4-cup extra-virgin olive oil
                                  2 carrots, finely diced, about 1/4-inch
                                  1 onion, finely diced, about 1/4-inch
                                  2 ribs of celery, finely diced, about 1/4-inch
                                  1 - 15 1/2 ounce cans of cannellini beans, including liquid
                                  2 15 ½ ounces of chicken broth
                                  2 cloves garlic, micro-planed
                                  2-tablespoons parsley leaves, finely chopped
                                  1 bay leaf
                                  1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
                                  Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

                                  grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
                                  crusty Italian or French bread


1.  In a large pasta pot bring a large volume of salted water to a rapid boil over high heat.  When the water comes to a rolling boil toss in the pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente.  

2.  While the pasta is cooking and in a separate 3 quart pot (large enough to accommodate both the pasta and the beans and sauce you are preparing), heat the bacon grease and oil over medium heat. Add the diced carrot, diced onion, diced celery, the garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables become tender, do not allow the onions to brown.

3.  When the vegetables become tender, add the beans and their liquid and the drained, al dente pasta to the pot while gently stirring to evenly distribute both.  Fill the empty bean can with the chicken broth and stir the broth around so it can absorb any of the thick cannellini liquid clinging to the inside of the cans. Add the chicken broth and the bay leaf, lower the heat to simmer and simmer the Pasta e Fagoli, covered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

4.   Adjust seasoning with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.  


Serve immediately either "family style" in one large bowl OR divided evenly among warmed, individual soup bowls and accompanied by additional extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese,  red pepper flakes, and crusty Italian or French bread. 

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