Usually when I grocery shop, I’m pretty organized. I have my
coupons, recipes and lists ready to go. Two weeks ago, not the case.
I wanted to make a soup during the week and needed to buy specific ingredients. I reached for my New England Soup Factory Cookbook and I couldn’t find it.So I had to come up with a quick plan B.
With one foot out the door ready to hit the grocery store (this is a serious undertaking, requiring two full grocery carts, since I'm shopping for 6 people, 3 dogs and 2 cats, two week’s worth in one trip) I needed a good pasta fagioli soup recipe.
I searched the internet and came up with what I thought looked to be the best, Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe. Simple, quick and a five-star rating by over 140 people.
This turned out to be a great soup, really easy to make. It’s a soup that could come together even on a busy weeknight. The only suggestion is to stick with the low sodium chicken broth. The pancetta is so salty that thelow fat chicken broth is all that you’ll need.
Also, instead of fussing with the cheese cloth and fresh herb bouquet, I just floated the herbs on the top of the pot and fished them out and discarded before serving. This worked just fine! Note: I had soem fresh spinach on hand, so I added a bunch.
Pasta e Fagioli
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 ounces pancetta, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
5 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounce) cans red kidney beans,
drained and rinsed
3/4 cup elbow macaroni
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon extra-virgin
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, pancetta, and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, beans, and sachet of herbs.
Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the sachet. Puree 1 cup of the bean mixture in a blender until smooth*.
Before putting the puree back into the soup, add the macaroni and boil with the lid on until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Return the puree to the remaining soup in the saucepan and stir well. Season the soup with ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with some Parmesan
and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil just before serving.
*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat
and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food
processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender,
release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates
heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times
then process on high speed until smooth.