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Pasta e Fagiole

 pasta e fagiole | hello, sweetie!

As soon as the weather starts to get chilly, I immediately start thinking of soups and stews to fill our weekday menu.  This is a classic Italian soup, easy to make with most ingredients you have on hand.  I love the fresh thyme and salty pancetta pieces. If you cant find the Italian meat at your supermarket, you can substitute the same amount of bacon.

Ingredients: 

  • 1T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3-4 ounce package diced pancetta (or bacon) 
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced, 
  • 7 cups water*
  • 3 T Better Than Bouillon chicken paste*
  • 6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme, tied in a bundle with kitchen twine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can Great Northern or Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup short tube pasta (I use ditalini) 
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or Italian blend) cheese
 pasta e fagiole | hello, sweetie!

pasta e fagiole | hello, sweetie!

Directions: 

In a large (7 quart) stockpot over medium high heat, cook the pancetta or bacon until nearly all the fat has been rendered, but it's not yet crispy.  Remove to a plate and set aside.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the olive oil and onions.  Stir in about 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Sauté until translucent then add the minced garlic for about a minute before returning the pancetta to the pot.  Now add the water and chicken paste*.  Increase the heat to high and stir until combined.  Drop in the thyme bundle, bay leaf and both cans of rinsed beans.  Let it come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Remember, the pasta will need absorb some of that salty flavor.  This is Giada's tip: ladle about 1-2 cups of the soup (beans too!) into a blender or food processor and pulse until thick and creamy (about 10 seconds).  Then pour it back into the stockpot.  This makes the whole soup feel a little thicker and creamier without losing that great texture or adding cream.  Now add the pasta and cook according to box directions (about 8 minutes usually).  Just before serving, remove what's left of the thyme bundle and bay leaf, add the cheese and stir.  Serve with a loaf of crusty bread or a fresh salad.

Makes about 8 servings. 

 

*If you'd prefer, you can use 8 cups of chicken broth, just omit the water and chicken paste. 

 

Recipe modified a bit from Giada De Laurentiis.  

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