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whole food ~ well made

Pasta e fagiole (pasta and bean soup) recipe at lynnecurry.com.

Dinner 911: Pasta and Bean Soup–Quick, Frugal and Comforting

I spent 10 days living alone in Tuscany one rainy April eating like a queen. All of it was from the Italian cannon called cocina povera–cheap peasant food.

One especially inclement afternoon, I walked to my regular lunch spot and ordered the most simple dish on the menu: pasta e fagioli.

It impressed upon me how a simple bowl of pasta and bean soup with a healthy dose of garlic can feel downright indulgent.

Pasta e fagiole (pasta and beans) recipe at lynnecurry.com.

Dependent on Beans

Dried beans–from lentils to favas–decorate my pantry in mason jars. They are the backbone of my cooking and even the inspiration when I cannot think of what to make for dinner.

For me, a ready-to-go pot of beans is so much more than it seems: sustenance & comfort ~ preparedness & possibility ~ generosity & luxury.

I try to make a habit of cooking up a pot of beans every week. It is like having a leg up on multiple dinners. I freeze leftovers in their bean water for quick defrosting.

With that simple resource, I’m ready to make this soup when the day runs away from me. Or when it’s raining when it should be snowing.

Pasta and Bean Soup Components

If you don’t have ready-to-go homemade beans, substitute drained and rinsed canned beans. Good stock is essential {it’s the perfect time to use that turkey stock you made after Thanksgiving}.

Pasta e fagiole (pasta and beans) recipe at lynnecurry.com.

Be liberal with the garlic, which imbues the soup without any sharpness. I consider a parmesan cheese rind an essential building block for this soup as well as minestrone, so if you have one stashed in the freezer, this is a terrific time to use it.

Beans, broth, garlic are blended together–an immersion blender makes it quickest–for a soul-satisfying and bean-thickened broth.

Your Own Pasta E FaGiole

The rest of this pasta and bean soup making is optional: the type of pasta you use {I love wide egg noodles but ditalini is traditional}, the addition of a few leaves of kale, chard or spinach or other vegetables {I added carrots to this batch.}

The pasta and beans carry their own weight, but a bit of crumbled Italian sausage {maybe spicy} is a wonderful addition to this soup. And it all goes a long, long way.

This is the essence of cooking at Forage: dinner you can conjure from your pantry. One serving of pasta e fagiole and I hope you’ll feel incredibly rich.

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Pasta e Fagiole: Pasta and Bean Soup

With cooked beans, this satisfying soup comes together quickly. Add in vegetables to your liking, such as spinach, chard or carrots. Additionally, you can add any amount of Italian sausage cooked and crumbled to add in to the whole pot or individual portions. For pasta, choose your favorite shape (I use what I have on hand.) I highly recommend crusty bread for sopping up the beany broth.

Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Lynne

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 head garlic (about 10 cloves), minced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced optional
  • 6 cups chicken broth homemade or organic
  • 2 1/2-3 cups cooked white beans, such as navy beans or cannellini or 2 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 parmesan cheese rind optional
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 pound dried pasta
  • grated parmesan, for serving optional

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until it turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the carrots, if using, and cook for 2 minutes more.

  2. Add the broth, beans, parmesan cheese rind, if using, and the salt and pepper. Bring the pot to a simmer and cook over low heat, partially covered until ready to cook the pasta. (You can prepare the soup in advance up to this point.)

  3. About 15 minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, raise the heat to a boil, add the noodles and cook until al dente. (See note.)

  4. To thicken the broth, remove about 1 cup of beans with the broth into a large glass measuring cup and puree using an immersion blender or potato masher. Pour the mashed beans back into the broth, taste for seasoning and serve.

Recipe Notes

To store leftovers, reserve the pasta and beans in a separate container from the soup broth. Otherwise, they will drink up all the available liquids.

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