In anticipation of the seasonal transition to fall, return to recipes befitting the cooler weather, such as soups and stews. Soups are often quite popular with the vegetarian crowd, as many such recipes cater to hearty vegetables and earthy ingredients without resorting to meat. For example, try preparing this traditional Italian recipe for Pasta e Fagioli.
The Italian translation of “pasta e fagioli” is literally “pasta and beans,” and while some people may now add bacon or pancetta to this soup, its origins lie in meager peasant fare. This was a filling yet inexpensive dish, and this factor happily carries over today. Pasta e Fagioli is comparable to minestrone in its base, though with a wonderful heartiness supplied by ditalini pasta and cannellini beans.
Since this recipe has spread across Italy and America, there are certainly many variations based upon region. In fact, there is even considerable debate regarding the proper pronunciation of “fagioli” based on regional dialect. When in doubt, call this recipe by its Italian-American title of “pasta fazool.” Dean Martin once sang, “When the stars make you drool just like pasta fazool, that’s amore,” owing to the Southern Italian variation of “fasule” — and if it’s good enough for Dean Martin, then we too shall take liberties with this casual title!
Fall of 2012 does not officially begin until September 21st, yet some locations certainly may feel like autumn already. This recipe is quick, flavorful and supremely nourishing as the weather cools down. Whether you can make this Pasta e Fagioli tonight or hold onto it for a few more weeks, you will positively love this vegetarian soup recipe!
- 1 1/2 cups ditalini pasta
- 1 (14-oz) can cannellini beans
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, celery and carrots. Stirring occasionally, saute vegetables until tender (around 12-15 minutes).
Next, add the diced tomatoes, vegetable broth and water. Stir in the oregano, thyme, bay leaves and salt. Bring contents to a boil, then add the ditalini pasta. Cook at a rolling boil for about five minutes (the pasta will continue to cook in the soup, so you want to undercook it by a few minutes according to the package instructions).
Reduce heat, and stir in the cannellini beans. Keep in mind that the soup will continue to thicken as it sits, due to the absorbency of the pasta, so add additional water if a thinner consistency is preferred. (Be sure to adjust the seasonings accordingly, as the extra water will dilute the soup.)
Remove the bay leaves. If desired, serve with sourdough bread and a garnish of freshly grated parmesan cheese.