Pasta e fagioli

Remember when I told you about how hot Rome is in the summer? Those ever rising temperatures that made things like no cook pesto and no bake icebox cake the best things to eat? Well, those days are over. We’re now officially in to Fall here in Rome – in the span of just a week or two the temperatures have gone from summery to downright cold, meaning my Ugg boots are out, the space heater is on in my office, and I’m all for making comfort food to combat the cold. My go to Fall recipes tend to be cozy and hearty dishes like ragu’ alla bolognese, risotto (post forthcoming!), and of course pasta e fagioli, the star of today’s post.

Pasta e fagioli –which means pasta and beans – is an Italian soup that, much like polenta, used to be considered a “peasant” dish, as it is composed of inexpensive ingredients that are still filling and nutritious. Nowadays however it can now be found on menus in Italian restaurants, and was a staple in my house growing up -- I remember that there was nothing better than coming out of freezing New England temperatures and having a pot of this soup waiting for us for dinner. Despite its simple ingredients, it is full of flavor thanks to fresh herbs, plus the tasty addition of pancetta (note that this can be left out for a vegetarian version). It is warming, filling, and perfect with freshly grated parmesan cheese on top and a side of bread to get every last bit of broth in the bowl. Note that this dish is also better a day or so after it is made, as the flavors develop even more. Enjoy everyone!

PASTA E FAGIOLI

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 ounces pancetta, chopped
5 cups chicken broth

¾ cup of crushed tomatoes
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup ditalini pasta (dry)
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving


Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and pancetta and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, beans, and rosemary and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer the soup for 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender or blender, puree 2 cups of the bean mixture in a blender until smooth – be very careful when you do this, as the soup will be hot. Before putting the puree back into the soup, add the ditalini and boil the pasta e fagioli with the lid on until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 9 minutes. Return the puree to the remaining soup in the saucepan and stir well. Remove the bay leaf and rosemary. Season the soup with pepper and salt to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with some Parmesan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil just before serving. Serves 6. 










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