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The Soup Season is upon us

Posted by Jim Carfrae on December 3, 2009

Nothing can beat pasta fagioli soup on a cold day, especially when people drop in uninvited.  My recipe has been revised at least five times, but not for awhile now.  What makes it so good is that:

  • I mash half the white kidney beans and stay away from those “mealy” red kidney beans.  The mashed beans gives a “chowder” texture to the broth.
  • I cook the pasta, usually ditali or tubetti, separately and add it in just before eating.  If you don’t do this, your left-over soup – I always make a large batch – will have bloated and soft pasta the next time.
  • I use pancetta, never bacon.  Bacon is pumped full of water that needs to be boiled off before you get any sizzle, it has no magic, no flavour.  Pancetta has been dry cured, removing most of the water in the curing room and receiving the incredible taste of dry aging.

I use a medium sized pot, heat the oil, sauté the onions and pancetta, neither should be crispy or browned.  Just before the onions and pancetta are done I add the crushed garlic. I find adding the garlic earlier makes it go bitter. If you are a spice fanatic, add some crushed chilies with the onion or use hot pancetta.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced finely
  • 4 ounces pancetta diced medium, (about twice the size of the onions, half the size of a bean)
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic

Add two cups of chicken broth, half a can of white kidney beans, with all the liquid. Next add the sliced carrots and quartered tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Meanwhile mash the rest of the white kidney beans with a potato masher and add to the soup.  A perfect mash is not required, the beans will continue to breakdown in the simmer.  Cook until the carrots are just done.

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1  19oz  can white kidney beans, I’m sure you can soak dry beans overnight, but I never have
  • Two medium sized carrots, sliced ¼” thick
  • 6-8 small plum tomatoes, quartered, I use canned tomatoes imported from Italy to get the full tomato taste and sweetness

Cook the pasta in a separate pot.  Always use lots of water.  Cook to al dente, or even just less. Strain and douse in cold water to stop the cooking.

  • 1 cup ditali or tubetti pasta

Serve the soup in the biggest bowls you can find, add the pasta to the soup.  Save the left over soup and pasta in separate containers.  Salt and pepper to your taste.  The broth and pancetta mean salt is not required for most people. Usually takes about 20-25 minutes to prepare. I find some kids don’t like the beans; in that case you can mash or puree the whole can of beans. Feel free to put in green stuff if you like the look.  A lot of people put sage in their pasta fagioli, I think it overpowers the subtly of the beans.

Pasta fagioli is a specialty of Tuscany; it pairs beautifully with the wine of the region, Chianti, and nice crusty Italian bread.


2 Responses to “The Soup Season is upon us”

  1. Looks like a winning recipe. I am going to have to try this and post a review on my blog, if you don’t mind.

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