Start to Finish: 2 1/2 hoursServings: 5Difficulty: Intermediate
Pasta e fagioli is a classic Italian country soup. Hearty and rich, this warming soup is perfect for cool nights. Because you can prepare it well in advance and with little effort -- much of the preparation time involves cooking the beans -- it is perfect for an easy weeknight supper.
- 1 pound dried cannelloni beans
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 can of chopped plum tomatoes
- 1/2 cup pancetta or bacon, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/4 pound tubetti pasta
- 3/4 cup minced parsley
- 1 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Fry the chopped pancetta or bacon in a large stockpot on medium-high heat, cooking it until lightly browned. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the fat.Add in the chopped onion and minced garlic and cook until the onions have turned translucent. Add the carrots and celery and cook for another two minutes.Add the dried beans and dried herbs to the pot with the vegetables and bacon. Cover the beans with 2 inches of water and bring them to a rolling boil. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, until the beans have begun to soften.Add a small amount of salt to taste, as well as the can of plum tomatoes, drained, and the white wine. Cook the dish on medium heat for another hour, until the beans have fully softened.
Adding the salt and tomatoes too early in the cooking process can lead to thick-skinned, under-seasoned beans. Wait until the beans have begun to soften before adding any salty or acidic ingredients.
Remove all of the beans and vegetables with a slotted spoon, placing them in a large bowl, and return one-third of the cooked beans, roughly 4 cups, to the cooking liquid. Puree the beans with an immersion blender until they become a smooth broth.
For a heavier broth base and a chunkier texture, skip this step.
Return the remaining beans and vegetables to the pot. Add 4 cups of water and bring the soup to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until it it is al dente, around three minutes for tubetti pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve the soup in flat soup bowls, garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of minced parsley. The soup can also be stored in the fridge for three to five days.
Change the type of dried bean you use. While quick-cooking beans means you do not need to soak them prior to cooking, beans that cook down too quickly, such as lentils, are not well-suited, as they break down too easily. Other bean options include kidney beans and even chickpeas.
Grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese is also sometimes added to the soup when serving.