I have started to come around on the whole beans-are-a-great-source-of-protein-and-oh-yeah-they’re-yummy movement. For most of my life, I regarded beans as something I picked out of food. Thanks to my good friend, Sarah, who introduced me to one of my favorite soups Spicy Taco Soup, I now really enjoy beans. They are a great way to add flavor to a dish without increasing the fat content. They also thicken dishes quite nicely. Now, when I see a recipe that calls for beans, instead of flipping the page, I take a second look at the other flavors in the dish. I no longer throw out a recipe because of the beans, which opens lots of doors for me!
I saw this recipe in Giada de Laurentiis’ Giada’s Family Dinners cookbook and thought it sounded like a yummy filling soup on a cold day. I was right. It was a-mazing. I loved it. I couldn’t get enough! I made it for myself and my friend, Chrissy, and we both liked it. I thought I’d share. Aren’t I nice?
Pasta E Fagioli
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cans red kidney beans (**I misread and only picked up one can, so my soup had 1/2 the beans she called for.)
3/4 cup elbow macaroni (**I subbed whole wheat rotini instead.)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Wrap the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine. (**I didn’t have kitchen twine, so I just put the herbs into the soup whole then fished them out later. Leave the thyme and rosemary on the stalk for easy removal if you choose to go this route.) Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy saucepan over a medium flame. Add the onion, pancetta, and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, beans, and sachet of herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the sachet.
In a blender, puree 1 cup of the bean mixture until smooth, then return the puree to the saucepan. (**I used my stick blender to blend the soup a bit in the pot so I didn’t have to fool with transferring hot liquid around the kitchen.) Cover and return the soup to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni, cover, and boil, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Season the soup with pepper.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.