Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli.........

is without a doubt, my favorite soup.  It is hearty and satisfying, full of protein, and just plain good!  When I go to a restaurant and have a choice of soup or salad, I will always go for the salad.  The exception to that rule is if Pasta e Fagioli is a soup option.

I first discovered Pasta e Fagioli when an Olive Garden opened in our town many years ago.  It was pretty good.  I had it again at a mom and pop family owned Italian restaurant about 10 years ago, and it was divine, to say the least.  I longed to go back in the kitchen and dive into the pot, but I resisted.  This soup is one of those items I wouldn't even try to make at home, because to me it was a "go out for it only" type of occasion.  Then I discovered this quick-fix recipe about 2 years ago, and have been making it myself ever since.  This is another great find from Robin Miller, and her cookbook Robin Rescues Dinner.

Quick-Fix Pasta e Fagioli


8 ounces ditalini or small shell-shaped pasta
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
8 ounces ground beef
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 - 15 ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 15 ounce can pink beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups reduced sodium beef broth
1 - 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
2.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, or until  soft.  Add the beef and cook for 3-5 minutes, until browned, breaking up the meat as it cooks.  Add the oregano and cook for 1 minute, or until the oregano is fragrant.  Add both types of beans, the broth, tomato sauce, and hot sauce and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
3.  Stir in the pasta and cook for 2 minutes to heat through.  Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4.  Ladle the mixture into bowls and top with Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Source: Robin to the Rescue, Robin Miller

I was out of fresh basil, so I used 1 teaspoon of dried at the end.  I also used a pound of ground beef to make it hearty like a stew. (you may want to add an additional 1/2 - 1 cup of beef broth) Instead of crackers, we had Naan, which I found at Trader Joe's in the freezer section (can we say less than 2 minutes from freezer to preheated oven to table?). 

This is wonderful any time of the year, but especially when it's cold outside.  Give this a try and let me know what you think.

Have a beautiful day!


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