Thursday, March 3, 2016

Pasta e fagioli soup

Just when you think Spring might be right around the corner (crocus in bloom, artichokes in the market), along come a couple of gusty, chilly days to bring you back to reality. March is holding true to its reputation of "coming in like a lion." 
Well, it has, but this pasta e fagioli soup offers some comfort.

It's different from the pasta e fagioli I posted in the past, but there are more varieties of this dish than there are regions of Italy. You can make it a hearty pasta dish, or soupy, like the recipe in this post or any number of variations in between. They're all good, so it just depends what you're in the mood for.
In this case, it was soup, and as I do with many soups, I throw a leftover parmesan rind into the pot. Don't toss those precious rinds when there's no more cheese to grate. Instead, wrap those leftover rinds and store in the freezer for soups and stews. 
It really adds so much flavor.
I used chicken stock as the base, but you can use vegetable stock and keep it completely vegetarian,
making it a perfect meal during the Lenten period too, with a few slices of crusty grilled bread and maybe a hunk of cheese (oh, and don't forget the red wine.)
Sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on top and dig in. Before you know it, warmer weather will be here.
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Pasta e fagioli soup

1 T. olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1 parsnip, diced (optional, but I had one on hand)
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 parmesan cheese rind
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
1 t. dried basil
salt, pepper to taste
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans
1/2 cup ditalini pasta, cooked in water, then drained

Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Add the carrots, celery, parsnips and garlic and sauté for a few minutes. Add the chicken stock, parmesan rind, tomato sauce, bay leaf, basil and salt and pepper. Cook everything together for 30 minutes. Remove the parmesan cheese rind. Drain the beans from the can and rinse them. Add the rinsed beans to the pot, along with the cooked ditalini. Serve with grated parmesan cheese, and crostini on the side.

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