Friday, February 24, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli

Why not make your house smell amazing as you simmer this Italian bean and pasta soup for an afternoon? This is a delicious recipe and (bonus!) full of filling fiber! It might take a couple of hours to make but it's easy to clean as you go and by dinner time, the kitchen is sparkling clean, the house smells wonderful, and all you have to do is sit down to a homemade meal. Enjoy!

Pasta e Fagioli
Ingredients:
1 lb dried beans of your choice (I like pinto)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, sliced
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained (I like to use fire-roasted)
8 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 garlic gloves, chopped
3/4 cup ditalini (short, tube shaped pasta)
1 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp black pepper
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:
1. Sort and wash beans, place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour. Drain beans and set aside.
2. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Saute for 5 minutes or until tender. Add 2 garlic cloves, cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add beans, chicken broth, red pepper, and bay leaf, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour and 50 minutes.
3. Add salt through additional 2 garlic cloves. Cover and simmer another 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
4. Place 2 cups of bean mixture in a food processor. Process until smooth. Add bean puree back into pot, stir well.
5. Add pasta to pot, cook 7-8 minutes or until pasta is done.
6. Remove pot from heat. Stir in parsley and black pepper.
7. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish bowls with fresh grated cheese if using.

*Chef's Note*
This recipe makes about 8 servings (with a serving being a 1 1/2 cups of soup), so when I make this for me and the hubby, I freeze a lot! This soup can get really thick, some might call it an Italian stew. So if you find the beans or the pasta are sucking up too much of your broth, I think it would be appropriate to thin out the mixture either with more chicken broth, veggie broth, or even water if you so choose. My only problem with water is that I think it thins out the flavor too much. Happy eating friends!

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