Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pasta e Fagioli

My daughter was telling me one day (while eating tomato soup), how much she loves pasta and how she wishes she could have some in her soup. I wasn't willing to go cook some right then and there and add it to her soup (I think that's what she was not-so-secretly hoping for). But I did tell her that there's a soup called pasta e fagioli she might like. I went on to describe it, including the beans, and she seemed excited about the idea. But she must have tuned out after she heard pasta, because a few days later I presented her with a big bowl of this and her face dropped. My husband and I both really liked it, but she just couldn't get past those fagioli.

Makes 6 servings

4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 oz. pancetta or bacon, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5 ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup elbow macaroni (or any small pasta)
freshly ground black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan

1.      Wrap the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and secure closed with kitchen twine.
2.      Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and pancetta or bacon; saute for 3 minutes, or until onion is tender. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds more.
3.      Add the broth, beans, and sachet of herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the sachet.
4.      Puree 1 cup of the bean mixture (carefully) in a blender until smooth.
5.      Before putting the puree back into the soup, add the pasta and boil with the lid on until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes (time depends on the pasta you choose).
6.      Return the puree to the remaining soup and stir well. Season soup with ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.
7.      Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with parmesan and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil just before serving.

slightly adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
onions and bacon
rosemary, thyme and bay leaf
herbs wrapped in cheesecloth (a bouquet garni)

Mine is tied a little awkwardly, but whatever keeps
all the herbs in and gets the job done is fine.
chicken broth, herbs and beans added
adding the pasta (I used ditalini)
I totally forgot to remove 1 cup and blend it before I added
my pasta. So I decided to break out the thunderstick
(a.k.a. the immersion blender) and just give it a few
quick pulses. Just enough to blend a little of the soup to
help thicken it, but leave most of the beans & pasta
in tact. Try to pay more attention than I did.
Luckily, it worked pretty well.
sprinkled with parmesan and drizzled with olive oil

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