After coming home from a week of being away and eating at some great restaurants, in both Richmond, VA and Washington, DC, it was time for a big bowl of comfort food...pasta e fagioli.
As we were making it on Monday afternoon, I was laughing with Jeff about this dish being one we make quite often yet we hadn't blogged about it. Sometimes we cook so much we lose track of which dishes we have highlighted and which have been put aside.
We found this recipe 3 to 4 years ago in Giada DeLaurentiis cookbook, Giada's Family Dinners. This Pasta e Fagioli instantly became a family favorite. It's one of those meals that takes 15-20 minutes to put together and within 30 minutes you have a delicious (and nutritious) meal. We love eating it with a crusty sourdough bread. Nothing better than sopping up the last of the soup with a great piece of bread.
We have made a few adjustments to the recipe, adding more pancetta, mixing up the beans, and changing the pasta. Here are a few hints when making this pasta e fagioli soup...
1. Keep a package of pancetta in your refrigerator. It's easy to make some great recipes when it's readily available.
2. When blending the two cups of bean mixture, make sure you have mostly beans. Once you add the mixture back into the soup, taste to see if it is flavorful. If it tastes watery, blend another 1/2 cup of beans and add to the soup.
3. We used ditalini pasta but you can use elbow macaroni which is what the recipe originally called for.
4. Use fresh herbs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, it truly does make a difference.
Now, create a favorite for you family!
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
1 cup of chopped onion
4 ounces of pancetta, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 (15.5-ounce) can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can of small red beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup of ditalini pasta
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
Wrap the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and secure closed with kitchen twine. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, pancetta, and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, beans, and sachet of herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the herbs. Puree 2 cups of the bean mixture in a blender until smooth*. 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 8-10 minutes. Return the puree to the soup in the saucepan and stir well. Season the soup with ground black pepper.
Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with some Parmesan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil just before serving.
*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.