PASTA E FAGIOLI
Andre has been asking me to make one of his favorite Italian dishes, Pasta e Fagioli, for some time now. When I woke up this morning to grey skies, I thought it would be a perfect day for this hearty pasta and bean soup. Then, the cold air turned hot and it started to feel like a summer day. Still, I decided to make it anyway. Here is my recipe for Pasta e Fagioli. This soup is a perfect winter meal and just makes you want to get cozy.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons onion, chopped
3 tablespoons carrot, chopped
3 tablespoons celery, chopped
3-4 pork ribs, or a ham bone with some lean meat, or 2 small pork chops
2/3 cup canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, peeled, cut up
1 1/2 cups canned cannellini beans, rinsed
3 cups broth + 1/2 cup for thinning the soup at the end (I used 1 quart Prosciutto Broth, and 1 pint Parmesan Broth but you could use homemade or canned Beef Broth or Vegetable Broth)
1/2 lb little macaroni shaped pasta
freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped italian parsley
Place the olive oil, onion, carrot, and celery in a large soup pot on medium heat. Sauté until the onion is translucent and the vegetables begin to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add the pork and cook for 10 minutes, turning the meat and vegetables over from time to time.
Add the tomatoes and their juice and adjust the heat so that the juices simmer very gently for 20 minutes.
Put the cannellini beans in the soup pot, stir to coat, and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the broth, cover the pot, and cook for 5 minutes, bringing the broth to a gentle boil.
Scoop out 1/2 of the beans and place them in a small bowl. With a meat tenderizer, potato masher, or even the back of a spoon, mash up the beans into a chunky paste. Once mashed, add it back into the soup and stir to combine.
Check the soup for density. There should be enough liquid to cook the pasta in the soup. If not, add more broth at this time or thin with water and bring back to a boil. (At this stage, I removed the pork. I found it to be tough so I did not add it back to the soup, but you can see how yours goes and if you feel like it, you can always chop it up into small pieces and add it back into the soup)
Once the soup is at a steady boil, add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is tender. Add the butter and parmigiano reggiano and stir to combine. Turn off the heat. Taste. Season with salt and pepper as necessary. Stir the parsley into the soup.