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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???

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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.

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Lots of cured pork...

Proscuitto or pancetta??? Or something else??

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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.

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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??

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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.

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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.

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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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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?

This stuff is comfort food, so make it taste the way you want it to. My own tastes run to the more minimalist end of the spectrum, because that's what I grew up with, but I have to agree with Wholemeal Crank, the parmigiano rind should be fine. And don't lose track of the fact that the flavours of the beans and the pasta provide a background for the seasonings, so I wouldn't worry about their being overwhelmed (although if the rind is from a really seasoned cheese, you might want to scale back the amount you use, or it will take over the whole show). The only crucial thing with pasta e fagioli is that all the flavours should come together really seamlessly (the reason it's often even better warmed up than freshly made).

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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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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?

This isn't meant to sound nitpicking, but is the rind from a very mature cheese, or have you just held on to the rind for quite a while?

If the latter, using the entire amount suggested would be fine.

If the former, it would be fine too, if you're okay with the flavour completely dominating the dish (and why not?).

But dominate it will: We have a piece of parmigano that is about 4 years old, and while it is perfectly sound, even a few small shavings have a remarkably big presence. This isn't a euphemism for it smelling bad, but it is as though the flavour of an entire cheese is concentrated into a piece the size of a fist.

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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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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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Here is my recipe, if it's not too late to consider. It's good :rolleyes:
Edited by janeer (log)

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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.

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