Cooking and Chef Recipes

Pasta Fagioli

pastafagioli4Meander down any burgeoning soup aisle and it’s plain to see that we can’t get enough of the slurpy stuff. With a nip in the air, and, oh, 30 minutes to spare, it’s easy to craft your own soup masterpiece. With pantry-friendly stocks, beans, dried pasta and leftover veggies, it’s conceivable to satisfy a soup craving completely on a whim.

Pasta fagioli, or, less romantically, pasta and beans, is a traditional Italian peasant dish. Unable to procure pricy cuts of meat to grace the table, earthy Italian divas relied on their gardens, inherent spice IQ and economical beans to create a robust meal in a bowl. And though the dish was once considered humble fare, it is now served in trendy Italian bistros (with trendy bistro pricing) across the land.

Grab a crusty loaf, toss a simple green salad and ask guests to bring the wine—in this case, a fruity Italian chianti. Mangia!


Pasta Fagioli

 

Serves 6 to 8

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, scrubbed and chopped
Coarse salt, cracked black pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 cup dry white wine
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
14-ounce can cannellini or navy beans, drained and rinsed
14-ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup cooked elbow pasta
1 cup prepared spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving
Fresh basil, to garnish

1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot.
2. Add onion, celery and carrots and sauté until fragrant and softened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add  garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add oregano, basil and fennel seed and stir to combine.
3. Pour in wine and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer; season again with salt and pepper, to taste. Add beans and stock and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pasta, spaghetti sauce and cheese; cover and simmer for 5 more minutes.
4. To serve, pass with grated cheese and basil.

Diva note: If soup becomes too thick, thin with extra stock.

Diva Confession: For entertaining (or just because you can), whip up a batch of basil walnut pesto to either drizzle atop soup or spread on bread. Combine 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup walnuts, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup Parmesan and salt, to taste, in a blender. Puree until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.

 

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