Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta & Bean Soup)

For me, nothing answers the call of comfort food better than a hot bowl of Pasta e Fagioli. The rich stock, tasty bites of beans and pasta, makes this soup hearty. Of course, like an authentic tomato sauce, there are many variations of this staple of the Italian kitchen. Therefore, you’ll find different recipes in every household.

I like to add small chunks of Genoa salami. After all, pork and beans go well together. Perhaps at a later date, I’ll ask mom for her “lighter” white bean recipe.

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There’s nothing like comfort food

 

Ingredients

1 – Small White Onion (Do a medium dice according to Onions 101)

2 – Teaspoons of Chopped Garlic

1 – Can of Red Kidney Beans (Reserve half of the liquid)

1 – Quarter inch thick slice of Genoa Salami (Go for two slices if you prefer an even heartier soup)

1 – Pinch of Sugar

1 – Beef Stock or Broth (Yes, I said stock not buillion)

2 – Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 – Ounces of White Wine (I prefer White Zinfandel)

8 – Ounces of Tomato Sauce or Plain Crushed Tomatoes

8 – Ounces of your favorite dried pasta (Elbows, Ditalini, Tubetini, or Small Shells)

Salt* & Pepper to taste

*The amount of salt depends on the brand of cooking stock and if it’s a low or non-sodium version.

Step 1: Dice the onion and cut the salami into small bite sized cubes

Step 2: Put the olive oil into a soup pot and heat

Step 3: Sauteé the onions until tender and limp, but not browned.

Step 4: Add the garlic (Remember garlic cooks very fast) Cook for 1 minute

Step 5: Add the wine (Let the alcohol cook out 1-2 mins.)

Step 6: Add the tomato sauce, beef stock, salami, and Kidney beans with reserved liquid

Step 7: Add one pinch of sugar*. Let simmer to allow flavors to mingle

*The nitrates in cured pork products can leave a nasty aftertaste. The sugar will cancel it out.

Step 8: In a separate pot, bring enough water to boil in order to cook the pasta according to box directions. You shouldn’t cook or store the soup and pasta together.

Step 9: Put one half ladle of cooked pasta into a bowl and add two ladles of the soup. Serve with a piece of crusty Italian bread for a hearty meal.

Step 10: Enjoy it! Mangia Bene!

Comment below if you attempt or plan on attempting this recipe.

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Pasta Carbonara

This is the dish that can make chefs scream at each other. The original recipe has come a long way and has gone through many adaptations in different regions in Italy and since crossing the Atlantic, gracing the menus of Italian restaurants and trattorias in America. I can hear some of the purists already glaring at me on account of ham and bacon. Ahem, just try finding Guanciale.

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1 lb. of pasta (use a long pasta that needs to be twirled)

½ – 1 cup of grated parmigiana cheese (the amount of cheese depends on your taste)

4 eggs (room temperature)

½ onion, finely chopped (most recipes don’t call for onion, but I love it)

1 tablespoon of garlic

¼ pound of ham* (optional)

10 slices of thick-cut bacon**

A handful of frozen peas (optional)

3 tablespoons of heavy cream or half-and-half (optional)

 

*I buy a quarter pound of ham at the deli counter and ask for it as one thick slice.

** Guanciale, pancetta, or bacon? Use whatever pleases you or what is available. If you’re using bacon from the supermarket, make sure it’s plain bacon. Don’t use anything like Apple Hickory smoked or other flavorings.

Step 1: Bring the water to a boil and add the pasta and salt as per the box directions.

Step 2: While the water is waiting to boil, cook your bacon and drain on a paper towel. Retain 3 tablespoons of the drippings.  Dice the bacon.

Step 3: Cook the onions in the bacon drippings. Add the ham, garlic, bacon and peas to the pan after the onions are cooked.

Step 4: Beat the eggs and add the cheese and cream. You can also temper the eggs with 4 tablespoons of the pasta water.

Step 5: Drain pasta. Add it to the skillet and toss for a minute. Remove from heat, add the egg mixture a little at a time, and keep tossing the pasta.

Removing the pan from the heat is critical. You don’t want the egg to scramble. This can also happen if you add all of the egg mixture at once.

Step 6: There is no step 6. Bring that pasta to the table and eat it while it’s hot. Enjoy!

Pasta, Grandma’s Way: An Exquisite but Simple Italian Tomato Sauce

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Ciao amici! I know there are as many different versions of tomato sauce as there are households in Italy, so here’s mine. It was handed down from my grandmother, who was raised on a farm south of Rome.  Meatballs, of course, constitute another blog post.


Psst. If you’re not a Latin Lover, you can certainly pretend when you serve her this delight.


Ingredients for Tomato Sauce:

2 medium onions

2 12oz. cans of crushed tomatoes

1 head of garlic

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

2 cups of soup stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable)

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

¼ cup of red wine (not a cooking wine – choose something you would drink)

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of flour

salt and pepper to taste

1 pound of dried pasta (I’m prefer Barilla Pasta, but use whatever you prefer)

Step 1. Peel the garlic and dice the onions. Pour the olive oil into a pot over medium heat. Then put the garlic in right away. The oil doesn’t have to be hot yet, because you don’t want to cook garlic over high heat. When the garlic is golden -not brown – remove it and set it aside.

Step 2. Put the onions in the pot and cook for 5 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent. Then put in the tomato paste and wine. Once the tomato paste has spread throughout the mixture, it’s time to deal with the garlic again. Squeeze the cooked and softened garlic through a garlic press, and add the crushed tomatoes and stock.

Step 3. Turn the heat two notches below medium.  Cover the pot, leaving the cover slightly askew. Let the sauce bubble and simmer for about twenty minutes, stirring every five minutes.

Step 4. In a small skillet or frying pan, melt the butter and add the flour. Let it cook until it has an almond or beige color. Now you have a roux.  Remove it from the heat.

Step 5. Put 5 ladles of sauce into a blender and blend until smooth. Empty the blender into a second large pot.  Repeat until all of the sauce has been transferred.

Step 6. Now that your original pot is empty, pour the roux into the pot, along with three ladles of the now-smooth sauce. Beat the mixture with a wire whisk, hand-held mixer or immersion blender.

Step 7. Once the roux has been completely blended into the sauce, put all of the sauce back into the original pot. Salt and pepper to taste, and let it simmer until the pasta is ready.

Step 8. Make your pasta according to the directions on the box. Remember to salt the water after the pasta has been placed into the boiling water.

Step 9. Enjoy!

Yes, this is a lot of sauce.  However, you can freeze it in Tupperware for up to 60 days.  Think of all the great dinners you can get out of this!  Eggplant and chicken parmigiana, Ziti, lasagna, Manicotti….o.k. I gotta go. I’m hungry.