Saturday, March 19, 2011
Pasta e Fagioli
Pasta e fagioli is a classic soup that has long been ignored, or at least ignored by me I should say. It's a wildly popular soup but I used to fear beans (and veggies...) so this soup was just out. I don't remember when I overcame this irrational fear but it was only in the past few years. I'm so glad I did though because it opened up a whole new world of lunch options for me.
Lunch is rough. I mentioned before that I'm not a big breakfast person, but I just can't find the motivation to make exciting lunch options. I take the most boring lunches to work- if my coworkers didn't read my blog they'd probably assume I was the type that ate Ramen noodles and frozen pizza every night. Being that I don't love leftovers lunch typically ends up being soup or a pb&j/sandwich, or maybe a Lean Cuisine. Exciting, huh? Well, I decided recently that I couldn't stomach another junky lunch so I made a batch of this soup for lunch that week.
This recipe yields a lot of soup! I ended up taking it to lunch for two days and sending it with John a day or two, plus freezing a big container of it for later use. It was delicious- I have to say that I was beyond pleased with the end results. I followed Bridget's advice and cut the liquids a bit- it was quite thick. After it's initial cooking it absorbed a lot of the liquid and wasn't very soup-like, so if you want it to stay soupy I would use the water too (I left it out). Either way it's tasty, easy, and makes a ton of food.
Source: Adapted from The Way The Cookie Crumbles, originally from Cooks Illustrated
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 ounces of pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cheese rind (pecorino romano or parmesan- about 5 x 2 inches)
2 (15 1/2 oz) cans cannellini beans
3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups water (use only 1/2 cup if you want it thicker)
8 ounces small pasta, shells preferred
Pecorino Romano cheese
1- In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the pancetta or bacon, cooking for about 3-5 minutes.
2- Add the onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
3- Add the oregano, red pepper flakes, tomatoes (and the juices from the can), scrapping up the brown bits on the bottom. Add cheese rind and beans, reduce heat to low, and cook 10 minutes.
4- Add chicken broth, 1 tsp. salt (only use 1/2 if you use less liquid)- increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until pasta is cooked, about 8-10 minutes.
5- Turn off the heat- discard the cheese rind. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6- Ladle into bowls- top with additional romano cheese. Serve hot.