Pasta e Fagioli is a classic Italian dish that belongs to the saying "cucina povera", which means cooking for the poor. Because Italy's culinary history and evolution is one of extreme poverty and scarcity over many centuries, "cucina povera" refers to the philosophy of using the ingredients that you have on hand or available and transforming them into delicious meals. As you know, both pasta and beans (fagioli means beans in Italian) are some of the cheapest ingredients, and Pasta e Fagioli is a satisfying and delicious dinner option if you are on a budget.
This is one of my favorite soups of all time. My parents always used to make this when we lived in Italy growing up. You can use different beans, different pasta's and really make any variations you want. This is my version, but feel free to tweak it as you feel fit.
For the best flavor, you really should use fresh or dried beans but canned beans work fine as well. I used canned beans in this recipe, because that's what I had on hand. Borlotti beans are my favorite for this recipe, which you can find in stores labeled as "cranberry beans" or "Roman beans".
Another trick I love is to save ALL of your Parmesan rinds and throw them in the freezer. When you make soup, throw a rind in - it brings an extra layer of flavor and cheesiness that really makes the dish!
Let me know what you think or if you have different versions of this recipe, I'd love to hear it!
2tbs olive oil
4 oz pancetta, diced (optional)
1 chopped onion
3 garlic cloves
1 sprig of rosemary
2 cans of Roman/Cranberry beans
1 cup of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
32 ounces of chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3 sheets of lasagna broken up or one cup of any pasta you'd like
salt & pepper to taste
Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat with the olive oil and cook the pancetta until it's slightly crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove from pan and set aside.
Cook the garlic and onion in the pot with the pancetta fat and olive oil until it's translucent and fragrant. Add the rosemary and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Add half of the chicken stock and tomato puree and bring to a simmer, then add the beans. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
Take half of the soup mixture and place it in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add back to the pan to thicken it along with the pancetta. Adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper and throw a Parmesan rind into it, if you have it. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
Add some more chicken broth to the pot (you don't have to use all of the chicken broth, add as much as you like to get to the consistency you prefer)and bring to a boil. Add the broken lasagna pieces in and once the pasta is cooked, ladle it into a bowl and top it off with some fresh Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil