Pasta & Beans: Pasta e Fagioli (Rachael Ray)
2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 pound (about 3 slices) pancetta, chopped (omitted)
Two 4 to 6-inch sprigs rosemary, left intact (omitted)
One 4 to 6-inch sprig thyme with several sprigs on it, left intact (omitted)
1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
Coarse salt and pepper
Two 15-ounce cans cannellini beans
1 cup canned tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1-quart chicken stock (replaced with chicken broth)
1 1/2 cups Ditalini pasta
Grated Parmigiano or Romano cheese, for the table
First, heat a deep pot over medium-high heat and add oil and pancetta. Brown the pancetta bits lightly, and add herb stems, bay leaf, chopped vegetables, and garlic. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Add beans, tomato sauce, water, and stock to the pot and raise heat to high. Bring soup to a rapid boil and add pasta.
Reduce heat to medium and cook the soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. Rosemary and thyme leaves will separate from stems as the soup cooks.
Remove herb stems and bay leaf from soup and place the pot on table on a trivet. Let it rest and begin to cool for a few minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and top with lots of grated cheese. Pass crusty bread for bowl mopping.
Chilly Autumn and Winter days ask for comfort food and what can be more comforting than a classic pasta and beans meal, Pasta e Fagioli? Growing up, Pasta e Fagioli was a staple recipe that was made year round. It’s an economical way to feed the entire family and often times, you can throw in whatever leftovers you have from the refrigerator or the garden. That was the case with our parents and grandparents. Today we try an original recipe by Rachael Ray, with a twist. We did follow this delicious recipe by using the main ingredients, but decided to tweak it a little to our liking, 2Orchids style!
Although herbs like rosemary and thyme, as well as pancetta (Italian bacon), can add extra flavor to the recipe, we decided to omit those from the dish. You can substitute Italian sausage for pancetta and still have a flavorful soup or, go meatless like we did without sacrificing flavor. We also added tomato paste to thicken up the soup and used chicken broth instead of chicken stock. After all, cooking is all about going with your gut.
There is something to be said about soup on the second day, therefore we like to make a big pot to enjoy leftovers and the flavor definitely improves overnight! For us, everything is better when topped with cheese, so sprinkle a little Pecorino Romano and grab a fresh loaf of Italian bread. Enjoy this rich and hearty meal by yourself or with loved ones. Warmer hearts ♥♥ guaranteed!