Ahhh …pasta and beans. If you’re a fan of Italian food, Pasta e Fagioli will most likely be included in your list of favorites. It’s a hearty soup with more than enough versions to sample. Every Italian restaurant will make the claim that theirs is the best. They are all good, no doubt. There is one rule though …to be authentic, it must include pasta and beans. After that, anything goes. It can be made with pancetta. Or it can be made without any meat at all. It can be “soupy” with a light broth or “stew-like” with a thickened base of milled beans.
The favorite in my household is a variation of the recipe found in the Stonewall Kitchen Favorites cookbook. The standout difference in this recipe is the addition of fresh rosemary.
The original recipe instructs us to use cubed boneless pork loin roast …which requires substantial cooking to become tender. Since this soup cooks up rather quickly, I found that pork tenderloin is a better option. But, remember how this soup goes …you can switch that out for sausage, chicken, or no meat at all. Also, for extra flavor, there’s always the addition of a bit of pancetta or bacon.
Have your veggies prepped before starting on the soup. I always use whole canned tomatoes instead of the crushed variety. When added to the soup, I break them up into good sized chunks so that they are a bit more substantial. Either choice will work. At this point, you’re about 40 minutes away from a simmering pot of mouthwatering deliciousness.
Be careful not to overcook the vegetables before adding the broth. You’ll enjoy the added texture of the perfectly cooked veggies in that bowl of soup later on.
And I know I’ve said this before but …be sure to have that crusty bread ready! Throw in a fresh green salad and you have a substantial meal.
pasta e fagioli
Adapted from Stonewall Kitchen Favorites by Jonathan King, Jim Stott and Kathy Gunst
This soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Or can be stored in the freezer for up to two months.
- 2 tablespoons flour
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 16 ounces pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 large onion, diced (6 ounces)
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, sliced (8 ounces)
- 1 stalk celery, sliced (2 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh parsley leaves, divided
- 2 32-ounce cartons chicken broth (or 8 cups canned or homemade broth)
- 1 28-ounce can crushed or whole peeled tomatoes (with juice)
- 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
- 1 cup small pasta, such as ditali
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (4 ounces)
Put the flour in a bowl and season with salt & pepper. Lightly coat all sides of the pork cubes with the flour.
Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven, of at least 5 1/2 quart capacity, over medium-high heat. When the pot is hot but not smoking, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Working in batches, brown the pork, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned pork to a bowl. Add the wine to the pot, raise the heat to high and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir with a spoon to release any browned bits clinging to the bottom of the pot. Pour the wine mixture into the bowl with the cooked pork and set aside.
Reduce the heat under the pot to medium. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, rosemary and about half of the parsley. Season lightly with salt & pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the broth and tomatoes (if using whole tomatoes, break them up before adding to soup) along with the beans and browned pork mixture. Bring to a simmer; then add pasta. Cook for additional 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Taste for seasoning.
Just before serving, stir in remaining parsley. Serve the soup piping hot in large bowls, topped with a generous amount of grated Parmesan.