I’ve always been reluctant to try a Pasta Fagioli recipe (I drop the “e”, “and” in Italiano) from a cookbook. Growing up, my grandfather, who passed away last September, made the BEST I’ve ever had. In fact, I go as far to say it was his signature dish. His parents were born in Italy but he was born in the States and also served in WWII where he had kitchen duty. The man could cook and I learned many things from him. Even though he had repeatedly told me this recipe (of course he didn’t have it written down) mine NEVER tasted like his. There were a few differences between the typical Pasta Fagioli and the one my grandfather made. He did not include any kind of broth and he used lima beans.
Because I’ve been craving some Pasta Fagioli I stumbled upon the recipe in my new The Good Home Cookbook. Since all previous recipes have turned out quite well from here I decided to give it a shot. I loved it! It was simple, but tasty, filling and perfect for a chilly night. This was another recipe the writer, Richard Perry, graciously shared his electronic copy with me.
As usual, there were a few alterations to recipe. I subsituted pancetta for bacon because I prefer it. I also used elbow pasta instead of ditalini because grandpops always used elbows. I also used fat-free, sodium-free chicken broth from the grocery store. The one secret trick I used to make the soup creamer and thicker was to use my hand-mixer for approximately 30 seconds BEFORE adding the pasta. I still wanted some whole tomatoe pieces and beans. Make this next time you need a hearty, one-bowl meal and serve with some good, crusty bread. As my grandfather would say, “Mangia!”
Overall rating: me- 4.5 stars (5 is reserved for pops!)
Pasta e Fagioli
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 slices bacon, finely diced, or 1/4 cup rinsed and diced salt pork
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth (page 119)
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup ditalini pasta
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 5 minutes. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.2. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the beans, cheese, parsley, oregano, and crushed red pepper. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 3. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just done. Drain and add the pasta to the soup. Serve hot.