Pasta e Fagioli
October 24, 2008 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Pasta e Fagioli, I simply must have your recipe, my dear.

I have a few good Italian cookbooks and Google, but I'd really love to have your 'secret' Pasta e Fagioli recipe, as I'm still searching for the perfect homemade bowl. Minestrone recipes very welcomed as well.
posted by dawson to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
You'll probably get some great responses, but this is a dish I grew up on and I don't really recall my mom using a recipe. Now I'm married to a chef and she sort of wings it, to. When I make it I use whatever I find in the pantry.

Pasta and beans, pasta and peas, pasta and chick peas - it's all sort of the same idea. Saute some garlic and onions in olive oil, add some canned tomatoes, your drained and rinsed bean/pea/legume of choice, crushed red pepper, s&p, maybe a sprig of thyme. Meantime you pasta water is boling. We always had elbow mac or tubetini, but some folks like spaghetti broken up into short pieces.

I'm also really fond of lentil soup with broccoli rabe and pasta.
posted by fixedgear at 10:46 AM on October 24, 2008

Mine is always really simple - any old pasta, cannelini bean, and tomato paste, but the secret lies in really good garlic (our local farmer's market garlic is so much more flavorful than the store-bought stuff), fresh basil (from the pot on the windowsill), and good romano.

I've topped it with a few blobs of fresh goat cheese, too. mmmmmm.

The mention of it takes me back to dinners with my Gram, who passed away this summer.

posted by entropone at 10:47 AM on October 24, 2008

This is a pretty good vegetarian (vegan actually) version (many versions include bacon or some kind of proscuitto). The fennel bulb is a nice touch. The lack of meat (ie fat) means that some of the strong flavor of the dish is lost, so my suggestion is to spice the bejezzus out of it.

This is really a very simple dish and like, say, lasagna, everyones is different and you just have to make a lot of it and see what works for you.
posted by elendil71 at 10:48 AM on October 24, 2008

I sautee finely diced onion, carrot and celery. Then I add tomato paste and stock. Then I add cannelini beans and cooked ditalini. My nonnie adds the pasta water to the pot; my mother and I do not. Usually we keep it on the stove on low heat all day, adding stock as necessary.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:50 AM on October 24, 2008

My mother's family is Italian-American and I'm pretty sure she uses Dom DeLuise's recipe from "Eat This ... It'll Make You Feel Better", although she'll usually add some italian sausage as well. I'm not sure if she modifies the recipe further but that recipe should give you a pretty solid start.
posted by reptile at 10:53 AM on October 24, 2008

I'm fond of the recipe from Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant, but compared to other more "classic" recipes the Moosewood version has nearly tripled the vegetable quotient and their version is more like a stew or even a pasta sauce.

I think as long as you've got the onions or garlic, a little tomato paste and stock, and the white beans, then the rest can be customized to your own specifications. But I can also relate to your quest -- I'm going to be embarking on a similar quest to make the ultimate New England clam chowder this weekend, and I too am studying others' versions to kind of compile my own theory on the topic.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:15 AM on October 24, 2008

The Cooks Illustrated version is amazing. I found it online here, though you have to register for a trial membership to get it. I'd type it in for you, but I have no time!
posted by ms.v. at 11:53 AM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Don't sign up for the Cooks Illustrated trial, else you'll never stop getting those charming, folksy, completely useless Letters from Vermont in your inbox.

Here's the recipe ms.v was referencing:
This soup does not hold well because the pasta absorbs the liquid, becomes mushy, and leaves the soup dry. The soup can, however, be made in two stages. Once the beans are simmered with the tomatoes, before the broth and water are added, the mixture can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days. When ready to complete the soup, discard the Parmesan rind (otherwise it will become stringy), add the liquid, bring the soup to a boil, and proceed with the recipe.


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
3 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped fine
1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 medium rib celery , chopped fine (about 2/3 cup)
4 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 heaping tablespoon)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 anchovy fillets , minced to paste (about 1 teaspoon)
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind , about 5 inches by 2 inches
2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans , drained and rinsed
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
table salt
8 ounces orzo or other small pasta (ditalini, tubetini, conchigliette)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
Ground black pepper
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)


1. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and anchovies; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Add cheese rind and beans; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, 10 minutes. Add chicken broth, 2 1/2 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (refer to package instructions to better estimate pasta cooking time).

2. Discard cheese rind. Off heat, stir in 3 tablespoons parsley; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into individual bowls; drizzle each serving with olive oil and sprinkle with a portion of remaining parsley. Serve immediately, passing grated Parmesan separately.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:03 PM on October 24, 2008 [7 favorites]

thanks, ms.v. and big thanks to you mudpuppie, for posting the recipe. I adore Cooks Illustrated recipes, but I'm not a 'member'.
Thank-you to all for the tips, ideas and links. I'm going to make this for tomorrow (Saturday).
posted by dawson at 2:30 PM on October 24, 2008

I've made this minestrone soup from Tyler Florence's Ultimate show on the Food Network. It was quite lovely.

My grandmother made what we called "peas and spaghetti" when I was a kid. It was my favorite. Take crush-onastick's recipe but change the beans to peas and the noodles to small pieces of spaghetti. So simple and so yummy.
posted by beachhead2 at 5:29 PM on October 24, 2008

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