I’ve been staying in the house only to venture out when absolutely necessary. I try not to turn up the heat, so I’m bundled up with sweats and fleece jackets. It’s hard to type when my fingers are numb. Anything to conserve energy!!!
The cold weather has inspired me to make Pasta Fagioli. Coming from an Italian heritage my mother made this several times a month as part of a hearty winter meal.
My mother and grandmothers were wonderful cooks and I learned a lot watching and helping them cook when I was growing up.
This bean soup is one recipe that I have revised by adding a variety of ingredients based on what I have in my fridge.
Some may not consider my “pasta fagioli” recipe as the classic Italian, but it is easy, cooks fast, it’s relatively healthy and definitely warms the soul. This can also be made as a vegetarian dish.
- 2 TBLS olive oil
- 1 large shallot diced
- 1 clove chopped garlic (optional)
- 3 large carrots sliced small
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 cans White Beans (preferably Great Northern Beans – they are firmer than cannellini beans
- 2 cans of chicken stock (use vegetable stock for vegetarian version)
- 1 small can diced tomatoes or 2 chopped fresh tomatoes (optional)
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 1 tsp. dried basil or 1 TBLS. fresh chopped basil (optional)
- 1 tsp. dried oregano (optional)
- ½ box of whole grain elbow macaroni
- Parmigiano Reggiano to taste (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in a 5 quart sauce pot then add the shallot, garlic, carrots and celery. Saute for about 3 minutes and then add the red pepper flakes. Saute until transparent. Try not to let it brown.
- Open the canned beans and just run a little cold water into the can for a few seconds and then drain the liquid. Add the beans to the pot with the stock and add the tomatoes and bay leaf if you desire.
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste and the dried oregano (if you desire).
- Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package, minus a minute or two, so that they are al dente. Drain well when done.
- Add the parsley and/or basil the last 3 minutes before serving.
- You can add the cooked pasta into the pot with the beans, or add 1 cup of pasta to each individual bowl and then ladle the beans to each bowl. It’s a matter of personal preference.
- Add grated cheese if desired.
Additional Ingredient Suggestions: For a richer flavor you can cook up some bacon, drain the fat and add the chopped bacon slices to the soup with whatever vegetables your family likes. Peas or fresh baby spinach can be used; you can use either rice, orzo, or other small size pasta shapes you prefer. Variety is the spice of life!
To make this vegetarian eliminate the bacon and chicken stock and substitute vegetable broth.