Showing posts with label pasta e fagioli. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pasta e fagioli. Show all posts

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pasta e Fagioli #recipe @LucyBurdette #lowsodium

LUCY BURDETTE: It's winter, even in Key West, which means that we've gone native and want to curl up and nap like these guys. With maybe some hot soup for supper.

I've just about given up on soup because of my low sodium diet – most soups turn out to rely quite a bit on salt to make the flavor pop. But when I saw a recipe in Bon Appetit for a pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) with a homemade broth that I thought I could tweak, I couldn't resist giving it a try.

I was worried about flavor though, so added two carrots and two sticks of celery to the mix. I also made the mistake of buying escarole instead of endive, but that worked out fine!

Ingredients for the stock

one and a half cups of dry white cannellini beans

2 quarts water
2 sticks celery with leaves
2 peeled carrots
2 bay leaves
1/2 head of garlic
1/2 tsp dried red pepper
handful of chopped parsley

  To cook the beans, you can either soak them covered in water overnight, or use the quick method, bringing them to a simmer for two minutes. Then cover the pot and let it sit for an hour. Next, drain and rinse the beans. Add all the above ingredients to the pot. Bring all this to the simmer and let it cook for an hour and a half.

Ingredients for the soup base

2-3 sticks of celery, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
14.5 ounce can of no-salt added diced tomatoes
3/4 cup white wine


Meanwhile in a second pot, sauté the chopped celery, carrots, onion, and two garlic cloves in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the vegetables are soft, add the tomatoes and simmer until most of the juice has evaporated. And 3/4 cup white wine and simmer again. 

When the big pot has finished simmering, drain the beans, discard the vegetables, and add the beans to the second pot, along with 4 cups of water or low sodium chicken stock. Simmer this all together, then add 6 oz of good pasta, broken into smallish pieces. Simmer until al dente, then add 1/2 head chopped escarole and simmer for several minutes until wilted.


Serve with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Pasta e Fagioli AKA Pasta Fazool

by Sheila Connolly
It was dark—dark in the morning when she had to get up; dark by four o’clock in the afternoon.  And it was raining, a steady soaking rain that wouldn’t let up. Every now and then it spit snow, just for the heck of it. It was cold, too, with that bone chilling dampness that trumped whatever the thermometer read.

She didn’t want to go out. She wanted to curl up in her oldest sweats, with a cup of hot tea and a good book, and maybe a purring cat on her lap to keep her company.

Translation: it was a lousy Saturday in January and I didn’t feel like putting on my outdoor clothes and going to the market (all of a mile away) to buy food, but it had been a week since I’d last shopped and supplies were getting low. So, what could I make with what I had on hand?

The potatoes had been used up, so that eliminated every quick and easy Irish dish. What else was lurking in that pantry? Onions, carrots, stocks, beans, pasta…aha, pasta fazool!

That name has always mystified me, so first I had to satisfy my curiosity: what did that term mean and why was I familiar with it? Turns out that it’s a corruption of “pasta e fagioli” which is Italian for “pasta and beans.”  It was made popular in a novelty song written in 1927 by two American songwriters (Van and Schenk), who in addition to the hearty peasant soup, apparently included references to Babe Ruth, John D. Rockefeller, Charles Lindbergh, Christopher Columbus and Benito Mussolini—something for everyone!). No, I was not around in 1927 to hear it.

But why did Dean Martin pop into my head? Aha! One of his signature songs was “That’s Amore,” which includes the immortal line, “When the stars make you drool/just like a pasta fazool, that’s amore.” (The better-known line is “when the moon hits your eye/like a big pizza pie.”)

Which, in a totally irrelevant aside, led me to ask Google why there was this persistent rumor that Dean Martin had once lived over the Chinese restaurant in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, where I lived for 15 years (much, much later!). Turns out his first wife, Betty MacDonald, came from Swarthmore. One more mystery solved.

Anyway, I had all the ingredients for pasta fazool, so I was off to the races—and didn’t have to leave the house. Note: I started with Marcella Hazan’s recipe but soon strayed from it. Hey, it’s a simple peasant soup, not a soufflé—improvise!


Pasta e fagioli

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 carrots (depending on size), chopped
1 14-ounce can Italian tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
1 cup white beans
3 cups beef broth
6 oz. small tubular pasta
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Two additional notes:
-- Most recipes call for some pork product. I was tired of ham, but I did have a half-roll of ground sausage, so I made tiny meatballs (I used a melon baller) and sauted them briefly so they’d hold together in the soup.

-- Beans: If you’re using dry beans, better to start well ahead of time to soak or pre-boil them, because once you start cooking this soup, they won’t really have time to soften thoroughly.  Or use canned beans—much faster!

Heat the oil in a stockpot and sauté the chopped onion until pale gold. Add the chopped carrot and sauté about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Add the tomatoes with their juice, turn the heat down and continue to cook another 15 minutes or so.  

Add the meat, the broth and the beans and cook at a low simmer for another 30 minutes.  Scoop out a half-cup or so of the bean-vegetable mixture and puree it roughly (this thickens the soup just a bit) and return it to the pot. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. 

Raise the heat to a steady boil and add the pasta.  Cook until the pasta is al dente, not mushy. 

Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for ten minutes, to pull the flavors together (and let the pasta finish cooking). 
Just before serving, swirl in the grated cheese.  If this isn’t substantial enough for you (it’s more a stew than a soup), serve with a nice crusty bread, and maybe a nice glass of vino rosso. 

Mangia! It’s a nice hearty soup for a cold wet day.

Scandal in only ten days!

And in keeping with the Italian theme, Reunion with Death (no, I don't mean the soup will kill you! but it is Italian).



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pasta e Fagioli a la Lucy Burdette


Today's recipe might be a little confusing, because it's obviously Italian and I'm just home from a wonderful trip to France, not Italy. But after spending ten days feasting on amazing pastries like the ones at the left, you can understand that I need to eat homey, plain food for a while to let my system catch up. One of the funny things we noticed about the French (besides the incredible pastries and bread and the smoking--you would not believe how many people smoke!), was the dearth of green vegetables. Even my husband announced one day that in the course of three meals, nothing green had passed his lips.. 

So this soup doesn't have green veggies in it either, but it's relatively low on fat and full of fiber and delicious comfort food for a fall night. Serve it with a green salad and maybe some biscuits or good bread, and you've got supper!

Pasta e Fagioli: Ingredients

2 tablespoons
4-5 slices bacon, chopped
1  sprig rosemary, left intact
1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 carrots, finely chopped
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
Coarse salt and pepper
1 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 quart chicken stock
1 1/2 cups ditalini pasta (I forgot to buy this so you see ziti)
1 chunk Parmesan rind for soup (optional)
Grated Parmesan or Romano, for the table


Brown the bacon. Remove from pan, drain and crumble. Next, add the olive oil to the pan. Over medium heat, saute the bay leaf, rosemary, chopped vegetables, and garlic until soft. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Remove to a large soup pan. 

 Add tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and simmer. Add the beans and the chunk of Parmesan rind if desired and simmer. (The rind is not necessary but it adds flavor and it's fun to come across the gooey, tasty mass at the bottom.) At this point, you may want to refrigerate the soup overnight for more flavor.

Bring the soup back to simmer and cook the ditalini separately until just tender, then add to the pot. Or dish the pasta into bowls and ladle the soup over top. Garnish with the crispy bacon and serve with freshly grated cheese and crusty bread or biscuits and definitely, a green salad. Bon appetit or buon appetito! (You know what I mean:)

Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries. MURDER WITH GANACHE will be out in February, but you can pre-order it now.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011


Have I ever told you the story of how Mr. Wendy and I met?

At the time, I lived in Minnesota.  I'd gone to a party where a group of women had gathered around the chip bowl (I, of course, was one of them), and we were talking about dating.  One of the women had been engaged in a complex campaign through personal ads.  She'd gone on a lot of dates and was raving about the polite, successful men she'd met.

I had never been much of a dater.  Oh, I'd had the occasional boyfriend, but it was always a friend who became more.  I'd never gone out with people I didn't know, and I was reluctant to contact total strangers.

But, I figured, sometimes you have to try something new.

I poked around on the Internet for a while, and I found this website called  The idea of using a mathematical algorithm to find a mate appealed to my inner nerd.  (I was on my high school's computer team.  We programmed in BASIC.  Competitively.  Enough said.)

If just so happens that Match had a promotion for a free week.  That, my friends, appealed to my inner cheapskate.  So I filled out the questionnaire, taking pains to be completely honest about who I was, what I was looking for, and how important each factor was to me.

One of the most important things?  I wanted a fellow vegetarian.  Food is a big part of my life, and I couldn't imagine sharing my life with someone who couldn't share my meals.  I was also looking for someone smart (not necessarily educated, but smart), who was passionate about what they did (whether they made money or not), and who had a sense of humor.  Preferably dry.

I hit "submit," and up popped a long list of men.  The first person on the list was a 99% match, but I didn't click on his profile right away.  Instead, I scanned the options ... and I didn't see much to strike my fancy.  But that 99% match intrigued me.

So I clicked.  I read.  I was further intrigued ... so I sent him a message.  I included my real e-mail address, because I'd decided that I didn't want to pay money for the service.  He e-mailed back, expressing relief that I'd provided that e-mail addy.  Turns out he was doing the free week, too, and didn't plan to pay.  (We're both cheap ... part of that 99%.)

Well, we e-mailed a bit, talked on the phone, met for coffee, and the rest is history.  We do have an amazing amount in common.  But what about the 1%?

It basically boils down to 80s pop v. metal and math rock.  And onions.

You read that right:  onions.  I love them, Mr. Wendy hates them.  But because love is all about compromise, I leave them out of the food we share (the chili, soups, curries, etc.).  That's why my version of pasta e fagioli is both vegetarian and onion-free.  If you like onions (and the person with whom you break bread does, too), you can start with about a cup of diced onions in the saute at the beginning of the recipe.

Easy Pasta e Fagioli

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans (or other white bean)
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 Tbs. olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic (minced or pressed)
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbs. dried basil (or 1/4 minced fresh)
10 oz. fresh baby spinach
2 c. water
1 cube vegetable bullion (optional)
1/3 c. chopped parsley

1 pound small pasta (elbows, small shells, whatever)
parmesan cheese and a little extra olive oil

Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add garlic (and if you're lucky enough to use it, your diced onion), and saute until fragrant (about 2 minutes).  Add dried herbs and carrots, and saute another minute or two.  Add the spinach and let steam until the spinach starts to wilt.  Add the tomatoes, water, beans (no need to rinse or drain first), and bullion.  Bring to a low boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently until the carrots are tender.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.

At the last minute, add most of the parsley and the fresh basil (if using).  In each pasta bowl, ladle in 3/4 to 1 c. pasta and top with the soup.  Drizzle with olive oil, and top with grated parmesan and a little additional parsley.


Wendy (aka Annie Knox) is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.