We are traveling to Italy today, but I can’t tell you where exactly because this recipe of pasta fagioli soup is probably a combination of several areas all over Italy.
Pasta fagioli literally means “pasta and beans” and there are so many variations to the soup. A thinner, soupier consistency can probably be found in Northern Italy. Another variation is to add tomato paste or tomatoes like I did to make a red broth or another variation is to have an all white pasta fagioli soup and just use broth and no tomatoes. I have also seen pasta fagioli made with meat or pancetta. Which is exactly what I asked Joe. He is part Italian and grew up with this soup, and he insisted I make it with no meat and red broth.
Pasta fagioli is one of my favorite soups to make. It’s simple, rustic, hearty and always easy to throw together in one pot or even your slow cooker! Like most soups, it starts with the basic trinity or carrots, onions and celery and after that sautes, this is way your mind can go wild! What kind of pasta do I want? What kind of beans? All white or kidney? Do I add tomatoes? Really..you can do whatever your little soup heart desires. Though, I do have a trick I like to add to my rustic soups. Parmesan rinds! I always save them as we are at the end of grating and use a small chunk to throw in soups. As the soup cooks, the small bits of leftover Parmesan slowly swirl and thicken the soup and give it a gorgeous background flavor of lightly salty Parmesan.
I’d also like to mention that this recipe makes A LOT of soup! I mean a lot! After you add the Parmesan rind and pasta, you will see it get a lot thicker as the soup sits. Which is perfect for “milking out” and feeding a large crowd. You can add more stock the days after and stretch this recipe out even more. Also, this can certainly be made in the slow cooker (as I’ve said before). Just saute the vegetables and then add everything else to the slow cooker.
I love easy and large recipes like this. You can freeze half of it in your freezer for lazy weekdays or serve a hungry army!
And because I’m curious….have you had pasta fagioli this way? Or have you had a different version?
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 carrot peeled and chopped
- 1 celery rib chopped
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves removed and chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Tb tomato paste
- 2 cans white kidney beans rinsed and drained
- 1 can red kidney beans rinsed and drained
- 5 cups vegetable stock
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups water
- 1 small Parmesan rind optional
- Pinch of red pepper flakes optional for heat
- 1 1/2 cups small cut pasta uncooked (elbows or shells)
In a large dutch oven or pot, saute onion, carrot and celery for 3-4 minutes until vegetables begin to break down. Add fresh thyme, red pepper and fresh oregano. Continue to saute for another 2 minutes.
Add 1 TB tomato paste and stir in. Add bay leaf, beans, 5 cups vegetable stock, 2 cups water, crushed tomatoes and small Parmesan rind. Cover the pot with a lid but keep a small space open. Bring the soup to a boil and then allow to reduce and simmer for about an hour.
About 10 minutes before serving, bring the soup to medium high heat and add pasta. Allow soup to cook until pasts is cooked. Serve with fresh chopped parsley or basil.