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Jaymes

Pasta e Fagioli

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Finally, it's soup weather, even way down deep in the heart.....

Instead of just my old standbys, I'd like to simmer up a nice big pot of Pasta e Fagioli -- which I order often in restaurants, but which I've never prepared myself.

My restaurant experiences with this soup have taught me that there are good ones and very mediocre ones and a few great ones.

Any of you make this wonderful soup at home? Will you share your methods???


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Lots of cured pork, excellent EVOO and parmesan reggiano as condiments, and add cooked pasta only when you're about to serve.

Actually, this is one of the simplest soups to make, and there are a boatload of variations to it, all based on personal preferences. I probably make it differently every time, so I'll let others chime in on specifics.


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Lots of cured pork...

Proscuitto or pancetta??? Or something else??


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Prosciutto isn't necessary, and it's flavor would probably be overwhelmed. I often use a good ham bone for flavor. Some will also add the pancetta. In fact, I honestly believe the purest form of pasta e fagioli may not have even had any meat in it. I just think any type of bean soup is better with ham or bacon.

Jaymes, you'll see these as the major variables: liquid (water, beef stock, chicken stock); beans (cranberry, cannellini, kidney, etc); meat (some put beef in their soup); pasta type; seasonings (I like rosemary in mine, whereas others believe that would be sacrilege); other ingredients (+/- tomatoes, carrots, etc.).

Have fun and experiment.


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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...beans (cranberry, cannellini, kidney, etc)...

Varmit - do you cook your beans from scratch the day before? In the same broth? Use the cooking water from beans?

Do canned beans work okay, or would that seriously compromise flavor and texture??


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I generally cook my beans in advance and use the cooking liquid as my base. Sometimes, I'll cook with stock, but I generally use water with a ham bone in it (along with a bay leaf).

However, I often want pasta e fagioli NOW, so I'll used canned beans. The canned beans are much softer and result in a mushier soup. Good, but not the same.


Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I have a super simple recipe. When I make marinara/red sauce - I just take equal amounts of sauce and chicken stock. I simmer some canneloni beans in the soup and just before serving - add the cooked pasta, evoo, grated regg parm and voila. Adjust the amount of stock for desired texture.

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Finally, it's soup weather, even way down deep in the heart.....

Instead of just my old standbys, I'd like to simmer up a nice big pot of Pasta e Fagioli -- which I order often in restaurants, but which I've never prepared myself.

My restaurant experiences with this soup have taught me that there are good ones and very mediocre ones and a few great ones.

Any of you make this wonderful soup at home?  Will you share your methods???

Bumping this back up, for further discussion

I had a terrific cup of Pasta e Fagioli today at lunch.

Chunks of a nice skinless pork sausage, which I could not determine it's origin.

woodburner

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Coincidentally, I made this earlier this week, inspired by the 52 1/2 weeks of soup thread. Here's what I did:

I used the quick oven method for the dried white beans in my pantry (reminder: preheat oven to 250 F. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, add 1 tsp salt, and one pound of dried beans. Return to boil, cover put in oven for 1-1.5 hours). I also added some garlic and a tied up bunch of thyme to my bean cooking water.

After the beans cooked for 1 hour, I added a cup of dilitini to the pot, allowed to par cook for 5 mintues, then added a can of crushed tomato and a can of water and simmered for 30 minutes. Adjusted seasoning (another tsp salt, some ground pepper, 1 tsp vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (I had forgotten to fry up some bacon to add, using the paprika also keeps it vegetarian, not that we really care), hmm, I also added a spoonful of onion confit :smile:) and allowed to sit with the heat off for another 30 minutes (some of the solids stuck to the bottom of the pan, and allowing it to rest with the heat off, they became unstuck w/out burning or scraping to mush).

I had some for lunch, the rest is all packaged up in 1 or 2 portion containers, so I can have them in the freezer for him to bring to work for lunch or reheat for a future dinner.

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I love this simple soup. My method is: slightly render a few ounces of diced pancetta in a generous splash of good olive oil. Add a chopped onion, saute gently a few more minutes, add diced celery and carrots, and a LOT of chopped or sliced garlic, sautee and stir until vegetables get a bit soft. Add 4 cups broth plus 4 cups water, and a box of pomi chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for an hour. Add 2 cans of cannellini beans (I like to drain and rinse, you may prefer otherwise), season with s&p, simmer another while. Cook ditalini separately, spoon some of the cooked pasta into bowls, ladle soup over. Top with a sprinkle with grated parmesan reggiano, and a drizzle of olive oil. Like most soups, this one improves with age. Very satisfying!

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Wow. I had forgotten I started this thread, well over two years ago. And now it's something I make a lot, thanks to the excellent advice I received.

So, a big thank you to all of you that helped me out so long ago.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I made a batch this past fall with homemade pasta ribbons in there.

What really, really made the soup was that I added prosciutto rind to the soup as it cooked. It leant the whole thing a viscous texture and porky flavor throughout. It's nothing at all new but really it makes a giant difference.

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Making this tonight with Rancho Gordo borlotti beans, which are soaking as I type.

I'm lurching between these two approaches, one from the New York Times (purist, few ingredients), and one from the Dean & Deluca cookbook (adds parmigiano rind, many ingredients):

New York Times

Dean & Deluca

The NYT recipe seems just a bit too austere, but I'm afraid of overwhelming the intrinsic flavor of these high-grade beans by putting in the Reggiano rind (I do have one).

Not planning to add all the other D&D ingredients (dried basil anyone?)

Advice, anyone?

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Thanks everyone -

The rind is really QUITE old, and definitely still good, smells gorgeous... Perhaps I should only put in a small portion of it?

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the first time I heard someone refer to pasta fasioi as a soup it completely threw me. What I grew up with and ate at my friends houses was far from soupy , but as with most italian food , I have found out that the regional and even familial variations on this dish are extensive. Anywhere from a thin soup to a dish that is basically pasta with a starchy bean filled sauce(similar to what I grew up with) . To be honest I was never that fond of it, I found it stodgy, but the thinner soup consitency has brought me around.

I would add the parm rind for sure and I would suggest adding a sprig of fresh thyme instead of the dried in the D&D recipe. I love thyme and beans though so I am biased.

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"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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Mjx - ah, good point. It was decent quality reggiano when first bought, but I don't know how matured it had been up till that stage. It has been at least two years in my fridge though. The smell is pretty deep and rich - it hits you the moment you unwrap it.

Ashen - thanks for the thyme tip. I have some sage poking up so I was thinking I'd use that.

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Too late, unfortunately, janeer - incredible photos of the beans still in the pods.

Photos of my past e fagioli coming tomorrow in the Dinner thread.

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Cooks illustrated has a good recipe! Actually, the official name is " Really Good Pasta Fazool." It's a soup version. Some crushed red pepper flakes and lots of fresh parsley at the end make it! The only thing I struggle with is that the grated parm I add at the end gets really gummy. Any suggestions?


Edited by mskerr (log)

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I've never heard of using cheese with pasta e fagioli. For me it's a summer dish, with fresh borlotti beans and tomatoes, served at room temperature. No pork either. Cook the beans, make a tomato sauce with onion and a large piece of chile. Add the sauce to the beans. Cook maltagliati or tubettini either separately or in the bean pot if there's enough liquid. Obviously you can do the same thing in the winter with dried beans, but in the summer it's a lifesaver for terrace dinners.


Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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I don't know exactly what the traditional variations are, but I see lots of recipes involving simmering a Parm rind in the soup, then removing it, which is how the cooks illustrated recipe I use does it. definitely adds a nice savory flavor.

I also thought I'd seen somewhere, perhaps on Bourdain, that in Italy, they stir the soup around the hollowed out center of a parm wheel to incorporate the cheese... Maybe this was another dish? Can't remember!

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Here's what I do:

Pasta e Fagioli

Start with about 1 cup of dried white kidney beans. (If you're in a hurry, use canned.)

In a large stew pot or Dutch oven, set the washed and picked-over beans to cook in about 1 qt flavorful chicken broth, along with 2 large cloves garlic, mashed and chopped. Bring the beans to a boil over high heat; then cover tightly and simmer slowly until they’re just barely tender. If they dry out before they're done, add a little more hot water/chicken broth/liquid, as needed. Monitor them very carefully, to be certain that you do not overcook them. You're going to add more ingredients later on and cook them some more and you don’t want them disintegrating into mush, so this is important.

While beans are cooking, prepare your seasonings.

Start with about as much good-quality, imported pancetta as you can afford. Try for at least ¼ pound. ½ pound is better. More than that is even more wonderful. If you’ve purchased it in a chunk, then chop it into medium-small dice. If you’ve bought slices, then julienne them. (Lately, I've been using a domestic brand that I buy at Costco/Sam's. It's not grand enough to just wrap around melon and serve, but cooked up in a soup, it's perfectly fine. And, it's affordable enough that I can use 1 pound, or even more.)

Put chopped pancetta into a skillet along with a couple tablespoons good, flavorful olive oil, 1 white or yellow onion chopped, 1 carrot peeled and chopped, 1 rib celery chopped, 2 more large cloves of garlic mashed and minced, 2 bay leaves, and about a tablespoon each of fresh rosemary and thyme. Saute until onions are clear and carrots and celery are tender and the whole thing looks “done.”

About 2/3rds of the way through the bean cooking time, add your seasonings to the bean pot. It takes about an average of 1 ½ hours for RG’s beans to get tender, so I add the seasonings at about the hour point. Stir in the seasonings, cover the bean pot and continue to let them simmer until just barely tender.

When the beans are just barely tender, add about 1 cup tomatoes. You can use chopped fresh tomatoes, or canned diced or crushed tomatoes, or tomato sauce. I’ve used left-over marinara, and it was great.

Give the pot a stir, and then turn heat to high. Add 2 cups more liquid – water or chicken broth. At this point, taste for salt, and add some if needed. When soup is boiling, add 1 ½ cups dry pasta. You can use small shells, elbow macaroni, ditalini, etc.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer briskly until pasta is al dente. Adjust seasonings. We like crushed red pepper, so we add that, along with black pepper.

Ladle soup into individual soup bowls and top with grated parmesan or Romano or whatever you like. Serve with crusty bread.

I've just tried to think back over what I do, so hope I haven't forgotten anything.

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I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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