A conversation with my husband:
J: What are your favorite soups?
D: Beef and barley, turkey soup, split pea soup, pasta fazool,…
J: Pasta fazool? Do you mean pasta fagioli?
D: No, it’s called pasta fazool!
J: I’m going to Wikipedia it!
Pasta e fagioli, or pasta fazool, means “pasta and beans”. Of course, the only time I ever ate this soup was at the good old Olive Garden… This soup is hearty from the beans and pasta, but also light from the broth. The tomatoes add a touch of sweetness and body and the Parmesan cheese rind in the soup gives it a little depth. This recipe makes a giant amount that you can (and we did) eat for days.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta (or bacon), chopped
2 (4 to 6-inch) sprigs rosemary
1 (4 to 6-inch) sprig thyme with several sprigs on it
2 dried bay leaves
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1-2 carrots, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1-28 ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes (I used one 14-oz. can of each)
2 quarts (2 cartons) chicken or vegetable stock (see note)
2-15 ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 Parmesan cheese rinds, optional
1 1/2 cups small dried pasta (ditalini, if you can find it)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Heat a deep pot over medium heat and add oil. Brown the pancetta (or bacon) bits lightly, and add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, chopped vegetables, and garlic. Season vegetables with salt and pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook until the veggies are soft, about 10 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, stock, and parmesan rinds, if using, to pot and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Bring soup back up to a boil and add pasta. Reduce heat to medium and cook soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. Rosemary and thyme leaves will separate from stems as soup cooks. Remove herb stems, bay leaves, and cheese rinds from soup and let soup rest for a few minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and top with lots of grated cheese.
I prefer this soup to be on the brothier side. Mostly because we eat leftovers during the week, and the extra broth is there so the pasta doesn’t soak up all of the liquid. If you’re going to eat this soup in one sitting, feel free to use less broth (a cup or two less). I also added more broth in the last re-heating of this dish when we ate it for the third day in a row. It was still delicious!