Doesn’t the Italian language make “Pasta and Beans” sound like a ballet? What began as a humble peasant dish has made its way onto many restaurant menus. It’s simple comfort food that tastes like it was made by an Italian grandmother.
This recipe includes one of my favorite flavor hacks, which basically means a genius and simple way to add lots of delicious flavor to something.
A parmesan rind.
If you buy a hunk or wedge of parmesan it always has about a 1/2 inch of rind on it that you can’t really grate. But instead of discarding it, I save those little nuggets of gold in a ziplock bag in my freezer. They are the most wonderful addition of flavor to any soup or homemade stock. All the deep parmesan flavor goes into the soup and the gooey melted rind just gets discarded at the end.
Soup is synonymous with fall and all the warm, cozy feelings we crave.
I keep thinking of that quote from Anne of Green Gables,
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?”
Relish what’s left of this singular month and maybe while you are stirring your Fagioli you will enjoy this lovely audiobook of Anne of Green Gables I stumbled upon.
Pasta e Fagioli
This soup is even better the next day, so if you are a make-ahead kind of gal, this is perfect! Just cook the noodles the day you plan to eat it.
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 stalks celery, plus leaves from the center chopped
- 1 large carrot (or 11 baby carrots) diced
- 1 pound ground beef (80% or 90% lean)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or one sprig, fresh)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (toddlers? you may want to reduce to just a pinch)
- 1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (32 oz)
- 1 Parmesan rind (optional)
- 1 14.5 oz can great northern beans (cannellini is fine too) drained and rinsed
- 1 14.5 oz can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup ditalini pasta
- Parmesan for sprinkling
Chop the onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add chopped vegetables and cook until softened (about 5 minutes).
Add ground beef, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, rosemary, and red pepper flakes and stir to break up. Brown beef but do not overcook.
Stir in tomatoes, broth, parmesan rind and both cans of beans. Cover and bring to a simmer and cook on low for 20 minutes. Taste the soup to make sure carrots and celery are soft (if not cook an additional 10 minutes). Also, this is the time to add more salt if needed. If you are on the fence about if it needs more salt, add just a pinch, because the pasta you are adding next will need it.
Stir in the ditalini*. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Remove from the heat. Fish out the parmesan rind and discard. Serve the Pasta e Fagioli with grated Parmesan.
*Do not add the noodles until you are quite ready to eat. The longer they sit in the soup, the mushier and more bloated they become.
If you want to freeze this, I recommend cooking and freezing the ditalini separately.