Pasta Fagioli Soup (Pasta And White Bean Soup)
This is the famous bean soup of Southern Italy. It is what’s meant by the slang Italian expression “pasta fazool.” It’s a hearty, delicious, very healthful potage, great in the wintertime in particular but light enough that it can be eaten throughout the year. What makes it particularly good is the use of fresh herbs, especially basil. Or even pesto, if you made a bunch of that before your basil plants froze last winter. This recipe is adapted from La Cucina di Andrea’s, which Chef Andrea Apuzzo and I collaborated on.
- 4 oz. cannellini beans (Great Northern white beans) or borlotti beans
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 strips pancetta or bacon
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 1/4 cup chopped leek, bulb only
- 2 tsp. chopped garlic
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and crushed canned Italian tomatoes, with lots of juice
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 3 cups veal stock
- Tops (with leaves) of 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried)
- 1 1/2 tsp. shredded fresh basil (or 1 tsp. dried)
- 2 cups small shell or tube pasta, cooked al dente
1. Sort through beans to pick out bad ones and foreign matter, and soak beans in water three hours to overnight.
2. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook onions and pancetta in olive oil over medium heat until onions become brown slightly. Add carrots, leeks, garlic and crushed red pepper and saute until tender.
3. Add beans and wine, and bring to a boil. As soon as bubbles appear, add tomato, three cups of the chicken stock, all the veal stock, celery, oregano
4. Let soup simmer slowly for at least two hours, stirring every now and then. Add the rest of the chicken stock and three cups of water as needed to keep the soup liquid. Skim excess fat from the soup, but don’t be too thorough about this–a little fat adds richness. The aroma should be wonderful.
5. When the beans in the soup begin to get tender, cook the pasta, drain it, and add it to soup. Stir well and serve with grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the soup at the table.