Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli

This hearty pasta-and-bean soup makes a fine winter meal with some oven-warmed, crusty bread and a nice soft, sharp cheese like Camembert.

(serves two parents and two children)

½ lb ditalini (or other small pasta)
3 cloves garlic
1 small onion
¼ c olive oil
½ tsp (or more) red pepper flakes
1 tsp (or more) freshly ground black pepper
2 fifteen-oz cans white beans (such as Great Northern or cannellini)
4 c chicken stock
juice of a lemon
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
kosher salt
Parmesan or Romano cheese (for grating)

1. Boil salted water in a pot large enough to hold the pasta. Cook the pasta until just done (al dente). Rinse with cold water and drain.

2. Meanwhile, chop the garlic and onion medium-fine.

3. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the garlic, the red pepper flakes, and the black pepper. Saute for 30 seconds, then add the onion and continue sauteeing until the onion softens and becomes translucent, about 3 minutes.

4. Add the beans (including their liquid) and the chicken stock. Let the soup come to a  boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

5. Just before serving, stir in the pasta, lemon juice, and the parsley. Season with salt to taste. Serve with cheese for  grating on top.

• When using pasta in soups, I always cook the pasta separately. Otherwise, it soaks up too much stock, resulting in a stew rather than a soup. If there are leftovers, I like to add additional stock to the pot to compensate for the liquid absorbed by the pasta.

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