Friday, January 8, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli

I was so lucky to grow up in a town full of different ethnicities. That's were I found my love of Italian, Greek, Polish, German & Slovak foods. We grew up celebrating all nationalities with different street fairs & church events that always included homemade food.

One of my favorite soups from these events is Pasta e Fagioli. Until now, my family wouldn't touch it because it had beans in it. Once I decided that I was going to try a Rachel Ray recipe for this dish, I knew that I would have to make some changes in it for it to work for everyone in my house. Her recipe was simple so it wasn't hard to make some changes and additions to it. We ended up with a hearty, delicious soup.

Pasta e Fagioli (my changes in blue)

    *  2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
    * 1/8 pound (about 3 slices) pancetta, chopped - I subbed 1 lb of boneless pork steaks, cut into tiny      pieces.
    * 2 (4 to 6-inch) sprigs rosemary, left intact
    * 1 (4 to 6-inch) sprig thyme with several sprigs on it, left intact
    * 1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
    * 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    * 1 small carrot, finely chopped - I grated the carrot into the soup
    * 1 rib celery, finely chopped - I grated the celery into the soup
    * 4 large cloves garlic, chopped - I used 2 1/2 TBSP of minced garlic in olive oil
    * Coarse salt and pepper
    * 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans - I did not add the beans to the soup. Instead I warmed them and added them only to my dish.
    * 1 cup canned tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes - I used 1 lg. can of crushed tomatoes
    * 2 cups water
    * 1 quart chicken stock - I used 32 oz of chicken stock
    * 1 1/2 cups ditalini - I used 3/4 of a lb.
    * Grated Parmigiano or Romano, for the table
    * Crusty bread, for mopping


Heat a deep pot over medium high heat and add oil and pancetta. (pork in my recipe)
Brown the pancetta (pork) bits lightly, and add herb stems, bay leaf, chopped vegetables, and garlic.
Season vegetables with salt and pepper.
Add beans(no!), tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and raise heat to high.
Bring soup to a rapid boil and add pasta.
Reduce heat to medium and cook soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. (this took about 12 minutes)
Rosemary and thyme leaves will separate from stems as soup cooks.
Remove herb stems and bay leaf from soup and place pot on table on a trivet.
Let soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes.
I spooned some beans into my bowl before the soup.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with lots of grated cheese.
Pass crusty bread for bowl mopping.

**I will be making this again soon. The only changes I will be making is to sub dried herbs for the fresh ones. My husband was not found of the Rosemary pieces in the soup. 

Leftovers should be refrigerated. Add more chicken broth and crushed tomatoes the next day before heating thoroughly.
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