After spending an afternoon cleaning out my pantry, I came across a bag of dried cranberry beans. Figuring I should do something with them, I looked for a few recipes using cranberry beans. Cranberry beans are small red beans which sometimes go by Borlotti Beans, Roman Beans or small kidney beans. I came across a Food Network recipe from Giada and thought I would try it. I have made Giada's Pasta e Fagioli soup and decided I would use the basics to the recipe and then add a few tricks of my own.
I started with a pound of dried cranberry beans and soaked them according to directions. I ended up with about 6 cups of beans when they were thoroughly soaked. I knew I had more beans than I needed but I was going to blend some of them to put in the broth. Adding chicken broth, more tomatoes and pancetta, the blended beans and additional kale, I had a delicious soup that is definitely worth trying. I also liked that I was able to make the soup fairly quickly after soaking and draining the cranberry beans the night before.
Follow along with these instructions and you will have a hearty soup in less than an hour. If you are a fan of the original recipe, I'd love to hear whether you like this version or the old version better.
Cranberry Bean Pasta Fagioli
adapted from Giada
- 1 pound of dried cranberry beans, soaked according to directions to yield 6 cups, drained (or 4 cans of cranberry beans)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus more to drizzle on soup as an option
- 4 cloves of garlic chopped
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon of finely chopped (fresh) rosemary
- 1 - 4 ounce package of pancetta
- 8-10 cups of chicken broth
- 1 - 28 ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, roughly chopped with juice
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 piece of Parmesan rind
- 2 cups of small pasta, shells or ditalini
- 8 ounces of chopped kale, no stems
- 1/2 cup of chopped parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large dutch oven, over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Once the pan is hot, add the pancetta. As it begins to render down, about 4-5 minutes, add the onions, garlic, red pepper flakes and rosemary.
- Saute until onions become translucent, about 3-4 minutes. The mixture will be very fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes along with 8 cups of chicken broth, Parmesan rind, 2 bay leaves and 4 cups of beans (or 3 cans), saving 2 cups (1 can). Bring to a boil.
- Add the 2 cups of shells and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. If the mixture starts getting thick, add more chicken broth.
- Take remaining 2 cups of beans (or 1 can) and 1 cup of chicken broth and blend until creamy. Use a blender or food processor for best results.
- Add this mixture to the pan along with the kale. Once the kale is cooked, about 3-5 minutes, remove from stove.
- Add salt and pepper to taste along with the 1/2 cup of chopped parsley.
- Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
This dish comfortably feeds 6-8 people.