Winter is practically here, but it was 70 degrees outside today, so that's weird. I definitely am not going to miss the freezing cold temps living here at the beach, but I sort of do miss the more fall-ish temperatures and I definitely miss fall foliage. Leaves are only barely changing colors here now. Like I said, weird.
But no matter what, the change in seasons always begs for soup. It's just a cozy food. Soup is one of the easiest meals to make and so easy to create flavor from very little. And don't let the onion-chopping let you run away.. I almost always buy the yellow onions instead of white and have never had a crying problem. If you do, I hear goggles work? You can easily make this a vegetarian dish by omitting the bacon and using vegetable broth and gluten-free if you use a gluten-free noodle. Everyone has their own take on pasta e fagioli, including adding carrots and ground beef, but I like to go with the traditional "pasta and beans." Mmm comfort.
The best and most important step of this soup is the blending step. Instead of using flour or cornstarch or cream to thicken the soup, you remove some of the beans and broth, give it a blend and return it to the pot. Incredible.
Pasta e Fagioli
1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 a medium yellow)
3 ounces or 4-6 slices bacon, diced into small pieces
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
5 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cans cannellini (or white) beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup ditaline (or other small shaped) pasta (I used orecchiette because in 3 grocery stores, I couldn't find ditaline)
3 Tbsp. tomato paste (approx. 1/2 a can)
1 large (or 2 small) sprig fresh rosemary
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
a pinch of red pepper flakes
salt & pepper*
1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced bacon and cook until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon drippings in the pot.
2. Add the chopped onion and garlic. Saute a few minutes, until fragrant.
3. Add the tomato paste and allow to cook for a few minutes. Then add the beans, broth and fresh herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease to medium and simmer 10 minutes.
4. Now, remove 1-2 cups (start with 1, increase for desired texture) of the broth and beans (more beans than broth) and puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender. Return to pot.
5. Add the ditaline pasta, return pot to high and cook for the time on the pasta package.
6. Eat!!! Garnish with your bacon crumbles and a drizzle of olive oil. Parmesan cheese too if you like. I love to eat this soup with a good baguette to soak up the broth.
*season with a pinch of salt & pepper at each layer. Taste before eating & add more to taste.
Coming this week:
easy and delicious soba noodles, a breakfast treat and a game-time snack.