Saturday, April 5, 2014

Italian Bean and Pasta Soup



We're actually getting some winter rains here in California, so I've switched our dinners back from salads to soups.  When it's raining, soup is my preferred dinner.  This Italian pasta e fagioli (fah-zhool) is a creamy blended version of the more traditional chunky vegetarian soup.  


I found this recipe in a newspaper insert, it's an adapted recipe from Maggie Stuckey's cook book entitled Soup Night. Great title.  Of course, I adapted it further. Traditionally, this soup is made with cannellini beans and tomato paste, but Maggie's recipe uses pinto beans and no tomato.  I think you could use cannellini beans and it would be just as good.  By using canned beans, I lowered the cooking time from 2 hours to less than 30 minutes.  I also didn't use the parmesan rind, in order to make it vegan.  

After cooking and blending this soup, it's topped with pasta. Digitalini, a straight tubular pasta, is traditional but I'm not a big fan of white flour pastas.  I had this wonderful, gluten free, quinoa brown rice penne pasta by TruRoots that I cut up to look like digitalini.  A little extra step in the recipe but a much healthier choice.



The final topper is a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  Don't skip this step, it really makes a difference.  You could also add a little chopped fresh parsley or basil if you have it.

 
Italian Bean and Pasta Soup
Adapted from a recipe by Maggie Stuckey
Makes 4 large servings  Use organic ingredients whenever possible

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + more for drizzling
2 small yellow onions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium carrot, chopped
2 celery stalk, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 15oz cans of pinto beans (or cannellini beans)
2 cups broth (I used Imagine no chicken broth)
1 cup dry whole grain penne pasta, cooked and tossed with olive oil.
Chopped fresh parsley or basil for garnish (optional)

Heat the 2T olive oil in a large pot over a medium low heat.
Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.
Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add carrot, celery, garlic, parsley and pepper.
Saute for 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
Add the beans with their liquid plus 2 cups broth and the rest of the salt.
Turn heat down to low and simmer for 5 minutes, covered.
Let cool for 15 minutes.
Chop the penne pasta into small pieces.
Puree the soup in a food processor or blender, in 2 batches.
Return to the pot and warm over a medium low heat.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with some pasta.
Drizzle the top with some olive oil, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

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