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Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

It’s been a wet weekend, temperatures are finally starting to cool and fall has officially arrived. Soup is the perfect meal to soothe the body and soul, getting us ready for the week ahead.

This is one of our favorite soups. The name says it all – Pasta e Fagioli – pasta and beans. It was originally known as a peasant soup because of its simple ingredients. But the flavors of this dish are rich and varied and it creates a meal worthy of serving to anyone!

Pasta e Fagioli is a simple soup to make. Start by sautéing pancetta with sweet onions, celery and garlic to create the first layer and lend a savory component. All four blend beautifully with the subtle sweetness of plum tomatoes, the tender beans and chicken stock. The soup is accented with a simplicity of seasoning – oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and luscious pieces of Parmesan rind. Then tiny pieces of pasta plump up in this soup’s wonderful broth.

And though you can start with dried beans, canned hold their own in the gorgeous layers of taste and provide a subtle creaminess to the base.

You can make the soup up to the point of adding the pasta, then hold it or refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve. Once you add the pasta you’re only about 10 minutes to a heavenly finish.

Top with shaved Parmesan and Fontina cheese, sprinkle with fresh parsley and be prepared to indulge in bowl of comfort.

Pasta e Fagioli

1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces pancetta, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped – about 1 cup

1 – 2 stalks of celery, preferably the inner stalks with their leaves, chopped – about ½ cup

2 teaspoons chopped garlic, about 4 to 5 cloves

1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cans whole plum tomatoes, 14-ounces each

2 cans white, navy or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed once, 15-ounces each

6 to 8 cups chicken stock

2 pieces Parmesan cheese rinds, about 2”-3” x 4”-5”

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 teaspoon brown sugar, optional

1 teaspoon concentrated chicken base, preferably “Better Than Bouillon”

½ pound small pasta, such as ditalini

Fresh parsley for garnish

Grated or shaved Parmesan cheese, or a combination of Parmesan and Fontina cheese for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the chopped pancetta and cook until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is starting to brown, about 7 to 8 minutes.

Stir in the chopped onion and celery. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are soft, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Add the chopped garlic along with the oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the garlic is soft and the oregano is fragrant.

Crush the tomatoes (Your hands are the perfect tool for this!) and add along with their juices, the beans, 6 cups of the chicken stock and the Parmesan rinds. Stir in the kosher salt, black pepper, brown sugar and chicken base.

Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes. At this point you can either let the soup continue to simmer for an additional 30 to 45 minutes or refrigerate overnight. Stir in the pasta and cook for an additional 10 to 12 minutes or until the pasta is tender. Add the remaining chicken stock to suite your taste or reserve for reheating.

Ladle into bowls and top with grated or shaved Parmesan and Fontina cheese. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley over the top and serve.

To reheat, add additional chicken stock to replace the stock soaked up by the cooked pasta. Warm over medium heat stirring frequently.

Some notes about a few of the ingredients. You can substitute the pancetta with bacon if needed. Pancetta is Italian bacon, found in the deli area of your food market. The flavor is different than that of traditional bacon and it does not render as much fat into the soup.

Parmesan rinds are a great addition to soups, sauces and stocks. They lend a subtle, slightly salty, nutty  flavor to your recipe. I find them in the deli area and always keep them in the freezer.

“Better Than Bouillon” is a must in your pantry. They have a wide variety – from chicken to turkey to vegetarian. I frequently add a small spoonful to my soups and stews for an added boost of flavor. You can find them in the food market with the broths and stocks.

Serves 6 generously.

Pasta e Fagioli, courtesy of Preserving Good Stock

September 24, 2018
: 6 generous servings

The name says it all - Pasta e Fagioli – pasta and beans. Though originally known as a peasant soup because of its simple ingredients, the flavors are so rich and varied it’s a meal worthy of serving to anyone!

By:

Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped – about 1 cup
  • 1 – 2 stalks of celery, preferably the inner stalks with their leaves, chopped – about ½ cup
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic, about 4 to 5 cloves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cans whole plum tomatoes, 14-ounces each
  • 2 cans white, navy or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed once, 15-ounces each
  • 6 to 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 pieces Parmesan cheese rinds, about 2”-3” x 4”-5”
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar, optional
  • 1 teaspoon concentrated chicken base, preferably “Better Than Bouillon”
  • ½ pound small pasta, such as ditalini
  • Fresh parsley for garnish
  • Grated or shaved Parmesan cheese, or a combination of Parmesan and Fontina cheese for serving
Directions
  • Step 1 Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the chopped pancetta and cook until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is starting to brown, about 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Step 2 Stir in the chopped onion and celery. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are soft, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Step 3 Add the chopped garlic along with the oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the garlic is soft and the oregano is fragrant.
  • Step 4 Crush the tomatoes (Your hands are the perfect tool for this!) and add along with their juices, the beans, 6 cups of the chicken stock and the Parmesan rinds. Stir in the kosher salt, black pepper, brown sugar and chicken base.
  • Step 5 Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes. At this point you can either let the soup continue to simmer for an additional 30 to 45 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
  • Step 6 Stir in the pasta and cook for an additional 10 to 12 minutes or until the pasta is tender. Add the remaining chicken stock to suite your taste or reserve for reheating.
  • Step 7 Ladle the soup into bowls and top with grated or shaved Parmesan and Fontina cheese. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley over the top and serve.
  • Step 8 To reheat, add additional chicken stock to replace the stock soaked up by the cooked pasta. Warm over medium heat stirring frequently.
  • Step 9 Some notes about a few of the ingredients. You can substitute the pancetta with bacon if needed. Pancetta is Italian bacon, found in the deli area of your food market. The flavor is different than that of traditional bacon and it does not render as much fat into the soup.
  • Step 10 Parmesan rinds are a great addition to soups, sauces and stocks. They lend a subtle, slightly salty, nutty flavor to your recipe. I find them in the deli area and always keep them in the freezer.
  • Step 11 “Better Than Bouillon” is a must in your pantry. They have a wide variety – from chicken to turkey to vegetarian. I frequently add a small spoonful to my soups and stews for an added boost of flavor. You can find them in the food market with the broths and stocks.


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