if you read my post on italian wedding soup, you already know how much i love soup. i’ll spare you too much repetition, but in short, i really really adore soup. so, when week two of my one-new-dinner-a-week challenge for 2012 rolled around + it was a gray, rainy day, i knew that the dinner should be soup. but what kind? after some internet browsing, i settled on pasta e fagioli, a traditional italian pasta + bean soup with a tomato broth base. it’s a soup i love, yet i had never made it myself before, so i figured it was time to give it a try. after reading the recipe, i upped the herbs + spices a bit, hoping for a soup that had a great depth + flavor + fantastically, that’s exactly what i got.
let me tell you, this soup is delicious! this type of unexpectedly fabulous meal makes me so thrilled that i gave myself the one-new-dinner-a-week challenge this year, as i don’t know if i would’ve tried this recipe otherwise – i probably would’ve continued buying tasty pasta e fagioli soup from the local cafe, not thinking to make it myself. this soup is wonderfully savory, with a great variety in flavors + textures from the ingredients. its flavor is complex without being fussy, + the soup itself is simple without being boring. it’s a big bowl of wonderful, especially delightful when served with fresh homemade bread. when my husband, not a huge soup fan, ate an entire bowl of it for dinner, i knew we had a big winner.
a quick note: this soup is not vegetarian, as it has bacon + chicken stock as ingredients. however, fear not, my vegetarian friends — it can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon, adding a little salt + liquid smoke to mimic the bacon, substituting olive oil or butter for the bacon fat + vegetable stock for the chicken stock. thanks to vegetarian pal lesley for the substitution ideas!
italian pasta + cannellini bean soup (pasta e fagioli)
makes about 6-8 servings, adapted from martha stewart
2 strips (2 ounces) bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
kosher salt + fresh ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans drained + rinsed
8 cups reduced-sodium canned chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 cup tubetti, ditalini, or other short, tubular pasta (i used ditalini)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)
in a dutch oven or stockpot, cook bacon over medium heat until browned + crisp, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
add onion, carrots + celery; cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. add garlic + rosemary; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. season with salt + pepper to taste.
stir in tomato paste, beans, red pepper flakes, + broth. bring to a boil, reduce heat, + simmer, partially covered, until soup has thickened slightly, about 20 minutes. lightly mash some of the beans in the pot to give the soup body. add pasta to the pot; cook until al dente, about 8 minutes (may vary according to your pasta). season to taste, if needed, with additional salt + pepper.
to serve, ladle soup into bowls; sprinkle with parmesan + parsley, if desired.print this recipe