Pasta Fagioli was first introduced to me as a pasta dish, sans soup from my friend Patrice Zubas. Even though it’s an Italian classic I’d never heard of it before but quickly fell in love with both her pasta version and the soup version. This recipe is what the Mediterranean lifestyle is all about. Simple ingredients paired perfectly for a big flavor.
Years later my coauthor for the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies, Wendy Jo Peterson, came up with her version of this classic using pancetta and wait for it…the Parmesan rind. Amazing! The rind softens and infuses the Parmesan flavor throughout the dish. I make this regularly although I’ll admit I often make it without the pancetta simply because I can’t always find it in our local grocery stores. It tastes great both ways so you can make it vegetarian if you’d like.
Give this version a try, it’s a hearty soup high in fiber, Folate and other healthful nutrients. It’s soup but it’s definitely a meal in itself and makes a great one-pot dish perfect for a lazy weekend day.
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 ounces pancetta, diced small (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme, or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 medium onion, chopped small
- 2 medium carrots, diced small
- 2 celery stalks, diced small
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced
- Two 14.5-ounce cans cannellini or navy beans, drained and rinsed
- One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 inches Parmesan rind (optional but makes it oh-so-yummy)
- 1 cup ditalini or other small pasta
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the pancetta and saute for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, onions, carrots, celery and garlic.
- Continue to saute for 7 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the beans, tomatoes (juice included) and stock. Bring soup to a boil and lower the heat to simmer.
- Add the Parmesan rind (if desired) and pasta and continue to cook for 20 minutes or until the pasta and vegetables are tender. Remove the rind and discard.
- Season the soup with salt and pepper. Serve each bowl with 1 tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.