Warm your body and feed your soul with pasta e fagioli, a fast, hearty, one-pot meal. This Frugal Family Feast recipe will feed four or more for less than $15.
Pasta e fagioli is Italian for pasta with beans. This traditional favorite satisfies a big appetite on a small budget. It tastes great fresh, gets better as a leftover and freezes well.
Making the herb pouch
Chef Jorge started by making a pouch of herbs. He tied fresh thyme, rosemary and bay leaf in cheesecloth with kitchen twine. This gets tossed in with the beans and broth to infuse the herb flavors.
Rendering the pancetta
Pancetta is an Italian pork product that is cured, like bacon, but is not smoked. You cook it gently on low to medium heat to render, or melt, the fat. A little olive oil, butter, onion and garlic help build the soup’s flavor.
Cooking and thickening the soup
The rest of the ingredients are added in stages. Canned beans, herbs and broth go in and the mixture is brought to a boil. Then you turn the heat down and add fresh diced and pureed tomatoes. Once the tomato is cooked, discard the herb pouch. Remove one cup of the mixture and puree it in a blender until smooth. Set it aside. This will thicken the soup later.
Elbow macaroni goes in next and cooks for about 8 minutes until al dente, which means it’s firm when you bite it, but not crunchy.
After the macaroni is done, add the blended mixture back in. Stir and season with black pepper and red pepper flakes.
Finishing the dish
Serve the piping hot soup with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top.
Pasta e Fagioli – courtesy of Chef Jorge Montes
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ounce butter
- 1 cup white onion, diced small
- 4 ounces pancetta, diced small
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup diced tomato, peeled and seeded
- ½ cup tomato puree
- 2 quarts chicken broth
- 2 (14.5-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup elbow macaroni
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
To prepare the soup:
- Make a pouch with cheesecloth and wrap the thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Securely close with kitchen twine.
- Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy large pot over medium heat.
- Add the onion, pancetta and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes.
- Add the broth, beans and pouch of herbs.
- Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium.
- Add tomatoes and tomato puree and simmer until the tomatoes are very tender, about 10 minutes.
- Discard the herb pouch.
- Puree 1 cup of the bean mixture in a blender until smooth.
- Before putting the mixture back into the soup, add the macaroni and boil with the lid on until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes.
- Return the pureed mixture to the pot and stir well. Season the soup with salt, ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with some Parmesan and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil just before serving.
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