Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pasta E Fagioli

I have already mentioned that I have a vegetarian recipe repertoire from living with my ex-roommie D for 5 years. This recipe for pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) was in the rotation when the weather got cold. We both enjoyed it very much. Not only is it tasty, but it is oh-so-healthy that there is no guilt if you want a second bowl!

I thought this soup would be a good entry as a "hearty vegetarian soup" for the food blogging event No Croutons Required, hosted by Lisa's Kitchen this month. I have been looking at Lisa's blog for a while now.

This recipe came from a cookbook I had, All About Pasta & Noodles, which was part of a Joy of Cooking book series. Notice I used the past tense because I have lost the book (I don't know how one loses a cookbook...). I tried to remember the ingredients and I think I got it right. I wasn't sure whether there were tomatoes in the recipe but now I am pretty sure there were. I also remembered lima beans. I was so excited to find fresh lima beans, or so I thought. The beans were really big, so I am not so sure anymore what kind of beans they were...

From searching recipes online, pasta e fagioli seems to be typically salted meat, beans over pasta. No vegetables really. However, I do remember once making this soup while our window was being repaired (break-in #1 out of 2 at my old place) and the repairman commenting on how it smelled exactly like a soup his mother used to make. Nice compliment!

Pasta E Fagioli (serves 12)
Adapted from Pasta e Fagioli in joy of Cooking: All About Pasta & Noodles.

For the vegetable broth
I made a vegetable broth because I had celery I wanted to use up. However, it's not necessary. I've used the powdered stuff for this soup.

* 2 carrots, sliced
* 2 celery stalks, sliced
* 2 potatoes, sliced
* 1 onion, sliced in two
* 1 garlic clove
* 2 bay leaves
* 3-4 peppercorns
* ½ tsp dried thyme

Place all vegetables and spices in a pot.
Add water.
Bring to a boil.
Simmer for about 45 minutes and turn off.
Strain the broth through a sieve.

For the pasta
I have no idea what type of beans the original recipe called for. My guess would be cannellini beans. I only had dry black eyed peas and I really like them! I prefer dry beans because I find the canned ones are too mushy, but they would be fine for this soup too. I remember the cookbook stating that this was between a soup and pasta, so it is supposed to be pretty thick!

* ½ cup dry blacked eye peas, soaked in water for a few hours (or from a can)
* olive oil
* 1 onion, diced small
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 2 carrots, diced small
* 1 celery, diced small
* 1 zucchini, diced small (not sure if this was in the original recipe)
* dried herbs (oregano, thyme, basil, parsley)
* 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
* 2 cups vegetable broth
* 1 cup small pasta
* handful of green beans, sliced in 1" sections
* ½ bunch Swiss chard, sliced in 1" sections
* lima beans, fresh or frozen
* salt and pepper, to taste
* ¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Stir fry onion, garlic, carrot and celery until softened in a big pot.
Add zucchini and tomatoes.
Season with salt, pepper and dried herbs.
Add the vegetable broth, followed by the black eyed peas.
Turn up the heat.
Once the blacked eyed peas are cooked, add the pasta and lima beans.
When the noodles are cooked, add the green beans and Swiss chard.
Turn off the heat.
Add the Parmesan cheese.
Adjust seasoning to taste.

Tip: If the soup portion seems to big, do not add the pasta. Freeze some of the soup without the pasta, then add pasta for the remaining portion.

Celery and carrots, diced small.

Lima beans or...?

Close-up of the mystery beans.

I think I cooked (and ate) Swiss chard for the first time for this recipe.

Final product, pre-cheese. You can omit the cheese and easily make this vegan.

Pasta e Fagioli
Dig in!


Lisa said...

Thanks for this hearty entry! Very colourful and healthy.

Holler said...

What a lovely soup! Who wouldn't be delighted with a bowl of this? Thank you for entering it into No Croutons Required, I am sure it will be popular :)

Wandering Chopsticks said...

They're fava beans. You have to peel them twice. See?

Gastronomer said...

Even though I'm not living anywhere bitterly cold, this soup still looks like a winner! Btw, I was going to chime in with Fava too ;-) XOXO!

Miss.Adventure said...

Thanks Lisa and Holler!

WC and G: Fava Beans! I think the sign said that but I was so intent on lima beans... I did not peel them twice but extra fibre never hurts, right? I'll know next time!