Pasta e Fagioli
Sing along with me:
"Beans, Beans, Good for the Heart,
The More you EAT, the more you Fart,
The More you FART, the better you Feel,
So EAT your beans at Every Meal!
CLAM CHOWDER MAKES THEM LOUDER!"
I have been resisting the Rancho Gordo heirloom bean order for some months now, but since every other blog talks about how fantastic these beans are, it was time to take the plunge! I think bloggers keep these guys in big bean business! (and you know who you are!).
Well, my Rancho Gordo sampler pack came the other day, and what to make, but a classic Pasta e Fagioli. A hearty Italian, pasta, bean and bacon soup.
Where I grew up, they called it "Pasta FAZOOL". Hey, remember, it's New Jersey.
This is a winter soup and the best one I have made so far.
I have been known to add garbanzo beans, lentils, or any other bean I can find to this recipe. Today, instead of my usual canned beans I made the extra effort and used the dried beans, and the effort paid off. The dried beans were so much firmer in texture than the canned beans and you can actually taste each bean, instead of a bowl of mush.
I also used the smoked bacon that I purchased at the Union Square Farmers' Market in NYC last weekend from Flying Pigs Farms in Battenkill, N.Y. and that also made the soup special.
You don't need to measure ingredients when making this soup. Make it to your liking. You add the small shaped pasta at the very end of cooking and now you have a pasta e fagioli!
Basic Recipe for Today's Pasta e Fagioli:
I find that Giada DeLaurentis' recipe is very good if using canned beans.
~ 4 cans of mixed canned beans (such as kidney, garbanzo, cannellini, NOT black beans) or dried beans of your choice (Rancho Gordo makes a great sampler which is what I used for this soup).
~ 8 carrots, peeled and chopped
~ 4 ribs of celery, chopped
~ 3 large yellow onions, chopped
~ 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
~ 1 can of diced tomatoes w/ juice
~ 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary & 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
~ 3 oz. of pancetta bacon, chopped
~ a dash of hot red pepper flakes
~ salt to taste
~ 8 cups of chicken stock. I used homemade stock that I had in the freezer (that's the end of my supply after this soup!), but the boxed stuff is fine too (I like Swanson's reduced sodium stock).
~ 1/2 cup of dried small shaped pasta to throw in at the end
Saute your vegetables, garlic and pancetta until soft in a VERY LARGE stockpot.
This is going to make a lot of soup!
Now add your liquids, herbs and beans.
*If you are using dried beans that have not been soaked overnight, then you will need to simmer this soup covered for 3 hours until the beans are soft.
However, if you are using canned beans, then you only need to simmer this soup for an hour.
This soup may be too thick, and you might need to add some extra water or stock to thin it, which I did. The consistency will be like a chili.
The last 8 minutes of cooking, add your dried pasta and cook until pasta is al dente.
Just before serving, remove the herb sprigs and serve in bowls. Swirl a little GOOD extra virgin olive oil on the top and garnish with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Though this took half of my Sunday to make, it was worth it.
It makes enough soup for about 8 people.