Monday, January 16, 2012

Pasta and Bean Soup (pasta e fagioli)

I've been sick for the last week.  Runny nose, achey all over, you know the feeling.  Thinking of our soup cooking class coming up and the way I felt, I made this pasta and bean soup for myself.  It was easy enough to do while not feeling well and it really helped me feel better!  It's definitely one I'll make again and again.

Pasta and Bean Soup
(serves 4; total cost $5.25, plus $1 for optional Parmesan rind)

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 slices of bacon, chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes or canned tomato sauce
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind, about 2.5" x 2" (optional)
1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz.) low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup ditalini pasta
3 Tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
Olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Heat oil in a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat until shimmering, but not smoking. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add onion, celery and carrot; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and oregano and cook for about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add beans, cheese rind (if using), chicken broth, water, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes.  When you are ready to serve the soup, cook the ditalini pasta according to package direction separately and add it to the soup.  To serve, mix 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley into the soup.  Ladle soup into individual bowls; drizzle each serving with olive oil and sprinkle with a portion of the remaining parsley, passing grated Parmesan separately.

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