Italian Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta E Fagioli)

soupI love Pasta E Fagioli “Fazool”, but I haven’t tried to cook it for a long time.   There’s a good recipe in the box that I have used a couple times.  It’s been about 3 years, and it is soup season!   Since I’ve been going through a lot of Cooks Illustrated, I’d decided to give their recipe a try.   I was intrigued by the use of anchovies.   The results were excellent as usual, and it has probably replaced my old recipe for pasta e fagioli. 

The recipe stresses serving it right away since in later days, the pasta absorbs the liquid and leaves little broth.   I did enjoy it as leftovers though.    The soup can be made in 2 stages.   Once the beans are simmered with the tomatoes, before the broth and water are added, the mixture can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days.     When ready to complete the soup, discard the Parmesan rind (otherwise it will become stringy), add the liquid, bring the soup to a boil and proceed with the recipe.

Makes about 4 quarts, serving 8 to 10

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped fine
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 celery rib, chopped fine (about 2/3 cup)
4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 heaping tablespoon)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 anchovy fillets, minced to paste
    (about 1 teaspoon)
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 piece parmesan cheese rind, about 5 inches by 2 inches
2 (15 ½-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
table salt
8 ounces small pasta (ditalini)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
ground black pepper
2 ounces grated parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)

1. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes.   Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.   Add onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes.   Add garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and anchovies; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.   Add tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan.   Add cheese rind and beans; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, 10 minutes.   Add chicken broth, 2 ½ cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt; increase heat to high and bring to boil.    Add pasta and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (refer to package instructions to better estimate pasta cooking time).

2. Discard cheese rind.   Off heat, stir in 3 tablespoons parsley; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.   Ladle soup into individual bowls; drizzle each serving with olive oil and sprinkle with a portion of remaining parsley.   Serve immediately, passing grated Parmesan separately.


One Response to “Italian Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta E Fagioli)”

  1. nytesong Says:

    Mmmm…this looks great! I’ve yet to see two people make this dish in the same way and yet every version is almost always delicious. Yours is a very different than the one my grandmother passed to me but I think I’ll have to give this version a try. Thanks for sharing. =)

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