Pasta e Fagioli
Pasta e fagioli is a straightforward and warming soup that’s definitive of Italian peasant cuisine. Marco Canora passed on this version, which is one of our favorite dishes during the cold winter months. Don’t forget to have the garlic bread in oven and ready to go for your feast.
Game plan: Traditionally, pancetta is included in pasta e fagioli to provide more intense flavor. If you want to use it, add 3 ounces of diced pancetta with the garlic. If you prefer some heat, add a few dried red peppers when you put in the herbs.
For a slacker solution, buy high-quality canned white beans instead of cooking the beans yourself.
- 1 cup dried tubettini pasta (you can substitute ditalini, conchigliette, or small maccheroni)
- 2 cups cooked small white beans such as cannellini (see Game Plan note)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 10 small fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- Leaves from 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups reserved bean-cooking liquid
- 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- Olive oil, for drizzling
1Fill a medium saucepan with heavily salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and boil until partially cooked, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Combine 1/2 cup of the cooked beans and the water in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.
2Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, sage, and rosemary and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in tomato paste and cook until it caramelizes and melts in with the other ingredients, about 2 minutes.
3Thin tomato-paste mixture with bean-cooking liquid, add remaining 1 1/2 cups beans, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add pasta and bean purée to soup, and simmer until pasta is al dente, about 5 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper if necessary, sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and a drizzle of olive oil, and serve.
Beverage pairing: A medium-bodied Chianti would make a nice partner to this hearty bean soup. Try something juicy, smooth, and uncomplicated, like the 2003 Castello di Monastero Chianti Superiore.
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