Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pasta e Fagioli

Fall is here, good soup weather, and only a month late.

Some students are coming over this weekend, and I’m thinking that it’s time for some pasta e fagioli.

A recipe that I’ve used before is one from the Food Network’s Everyday Italian. This is the one that looked most like what Vincent Bruno used to make, although he added ceci (chickpeas) and tended to use rotini or fusilli. He also used a LOT more garlic. So I tried it out, to good effect, and then thought I’d see what the show was like.

I like the recipe. I really do. But I have real trouble watching the show. She is just so wide-eyed, so effusive, so isn’t-this-marvelous. I can’t take it. But the recipes (yes, I’ve tried a couple of other things from the show’s archive) are pretty good.

And here’s the soup:


Pasta e Fagioli

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Show: Everyday Italian
Episode: Italian Ladies

  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 5 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup elbow macaroni
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Wrap the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and secure closed with kitchen twine. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, pancetta, and garlic and sauté until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, beans, and sachet of herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the sachet. Puree 1 cup of the bean mixture in a blender until smooth*. Before putting the puree back into the soup, add the macaroni and boil with the lid on until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Return the puree to the remaining soup in the saucepan and stir well. Season the soup with ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with some Parmesan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil just before serving.

*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.


When I made this for a lunch at work, I pre-cooked the pasta about 3/4 of the way to al dente and put it in a big ziplock. The soup I put in a big crock pot at work, and about 20 minutes before serving time, I put the pasta into the crock pot. It warmed up, finished cooking, and was the right texture without me having to do any of the cooking at the office.

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