Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pasta e Fagiole Soup

My little man’s favorite food is soup (except when it’s cupcakes), and we typically make at least one pot of soup each week. Soups with pasta and beans are tops in his book, and we created this light and flavorful soup a few weeks ago.
The soup gets a lot of flavor from a lot of sautéing, as you’ll notice in the steps. Add ingredient, sauté. Add ingredient, sauté. Each ingredient cooks separately and releases its own flavor to the pot.
This process starts with sautéing pancetta. You can easily substitute bacon, although it might be a bit chewier in the soup. You can also substitute chopped ham, or even a half-pound of ground beef or Italian sausage, to make the soup heartier. (You could also omit the meat entirely.)
A small pasta is preferable in this soup. Ditalini is pretty easy to find, but the little man recommends the slightly larger mezzi tubetti. He also recommends wearing a piece of cooked mezzi tubetti on each of your fingers while you eat.
And I recommend serving this soup with a swirl of olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese at the end, because they really do give the soup extra taste and richness.
We both insist that you serve the soup with hot, garlicky breadsticks.
Jack’s Pasta e Fagioli Makes 6 servings
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 cans small white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup tubetti or ditalini
  • Additional salt and pepper, to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

  • 1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add pancetta and saute until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes.

    2. Add onion and saute until softened and golden, about 5 minutes.

    3. Add garlic and saute about 1 minute.

    4. Add tomato paste. Saute about 2-3 minutes, or until tomato paste starts to turn a rusty color.

    5. Add beans, broth, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

    6. Add pasta and increase heat to medium. Cover and cook until pasta is tender, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    7. Serve in bowls. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and Parmesan.