Minestra di Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Bean Soup)

 

Last night my mother prepared a simple dinner:  one of the quintessential Northern Italian comfort foods that exemplifies “cucina povera” (poor food), and which is the infamous soup of the Tuscan people:  Minestra di Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Bean Soup) .

In Italy every family has their own treasured recipe for this soup and my family is no exception.  You can witness this mind-boggling diversity simply from reading recipes from other blogs, Italian cookbooks, or just from searching the Web for the recipe.  As the weather becomes somewhat cooler here in the South (it is 73 degrees today) and the evenings become a bit chilly the minute the sun is down, it seems just perfect to imitate the “bean lovers” (as Tuscans are called due to their love affair with the beautiful bean), by sipping this savory soup.  We lovingly call this soup “Pasta Fajool” (fa-zhool)!

My parents may not have enjoyed abundance when they were growing up as children of immigrants, but their mothers kept the kitchen aromas filling their homes, as pots of soups or pasta simmered slowly on the stove.  My father said they had Pasta e Fagioli soup nearly every night for dinner when my grandfather was a coal miner in the Midwest.

Nothing represents love and comfort as much as a simple, hearty warm soup and some bread to sop it up with!  Although this soup was considered the food of the poor, one certainly is never hungry after one full bowl; it is that satisfying.  Plus soup is so restorative to our health and our souls!

 

Minestra di Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Bean Soup)

What You Need:

  • Olive oil (to saute the vegetables) *
  • 5 stalks of celery, including leaves, cleaned with thick white end cut off, and then chopped *
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots (optional) *
  • 1 onion, chopped *
  • 1 big bunch of Italian parsley, cleaned, stems cut off, and chopped *
  • 4 cloves garlic minced *
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 6-oz. can tomato paste (add more until your desired level of 'red' color and tomato flavor is reached)
  • 2 cans red kidney beans (I prefer dark red) ~ ~ if you use fresh beans, they must be soaked in water overnight (you can also use pinto beans or a white bean variety)
  • Pasta (in this case I used mini-farfalle), but often 'ditalini' pasta is used
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
  • Fresh, crusty, artisanal Italian bread
  • * These are known as "soffrito" or the 'fried' base of a soup, which can be made ahead and frozen.

Instructions

  • If using dried beans, cover them completely with water in a pot and soak overnight. Drain water the next day.
  • In a large, heavy 4 - 5 quart pot, saute the onion, carrots, and celery in the olive oil.
  • Add the parsley and garlic and saute for one more minute.
  • Fill the pot with the water.
  • Add the tomato paste/ tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  • Add the kidney beans, reduce the heat just slightly and cook until slightly tender.
  • Bring back to a boil and add the pasta noodles and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.
  • Remove the soup from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Let stand 5 minutes.
  • Serve in warmed bowls.
  • Sprinkle with grated cheese.
  • Serve with freshly, grated Parmigiano cheese and fresh bread.
  • THIS SOUP IS BETTER IF allowed to rest for 2 hours before serving; it thickens up nicely. It is even better the NEXT day when all of the flavors are allowed to marry and blend!
  • If you choose to do this, don't put the pasta in until the soup is re-warmed and THEN boil your pasta for 7 minutes/until al dente. If you have the pasta noodles in for a long time, they become very large from absorbing the soup liquid.
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Comments

  1. Scrumptious soup, perfect for rainy and cold night ! Are you ready for Thanksgiving ?

  2. This looks absolutely delicious! I’m going to make this tonight for Meatless Monday. Thx :)

  3. Reading your blog and this recipe makes me miss Italy. Have a good week :) . Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  4. Roz – I must be Tuscan at heart because I adore all beans! This soup looks wonderful. I once read in an Italian cookbook that people made fritters with the fazool once it had thickened up the next day. Have you ever done that or heard of that?

    Hope you’re doing well and I also hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your parents there.

  5. I love this kind of dish – delish!

    :)
    ButterYum

  6. This hits me where I live. We had Pasta Fazhool (not as soup) every Friday for a meatless dinner growing up. I still crave it (and make it). Yours looks so warm and welcoming.

  7. beautiful story, beautiful dish! thanks for featuring me last week, roz, i appreciate it and have a wonderful holiday!

    anne
    http://www.anniebakes.net

  8. I adore soups of every kind and this is one of my favorites!

  9. Oh yum Roz we love this old Italian classic. It was my Mother’s #1 “no meat on Friday” meal. Both of my sons enjoy this one so much when they were living at home I had to make it with nearly two boxes of ditalini at a time! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  10. Ciao! I absolutely love this soup!!!!

  11. Just the sort of comfort food that is required here at the moment with this cold and exceedingly damp weather.

  12. I agree that soup is the ultimate comfort food with bread fresh from the oven to sop up all the goodness. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Roz. Rgere is so much to thankful for.

  13. Cucina Povera, well that’s just plain practical these days, isn’t it. I’ve gotta say, I will never turn down a steaming bowl of soup, no matter how humble. Thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  14. If that is considered “poor food”…I must be one of the most humble guys around. What a great post for a winter time meal. Thanks for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  15. Soup is definitely one of my favorite meals anytime…good for the heart and the soul, indeed. So glad you linked this to the hearth and soul hop this week Roz. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving :D

  16. Love the tomato and bean combination, but honestly the little bow ties are my favorite! This looks just wonderful, thanks.

  17. Gorgeous dish!!! Happy Thanksgiving this is a perfect addition to any meal delicious!!!

  18. Hi,

    That’s a beautiful looking soup>>>:)

    Dr.Sameena@

    http://www.myeasytocookrecipes.blogspot.com

  19. Roz – your pasta e fagioli looks beautiful – I tried making this once, but I let my pasta sit in the broth a little long and ended up with stew. Taste was great though and it’s one I’m definitely keen to try again and get the consistency right :-)
    Sue

  20. What a warm and wonderful soup, this is definitely a favorite :)
    I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving :)

  21. Roz – This is such a wonderful and soulful post that I just had to include it among my picks for Best of the Blog hop this week, which will be posted on Sunday night. Thanks again for participating in the Hearth and Soul hop.

  22. Beautiful! This is one of my favorite soups–so comforting and good. Thanks for sending it to Souper Sundays.
    ;-)

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