Soul-soothing Pasta Fagioli

Like many traditional Italian dishes including polenta or even pizza, pasta fagioli started as a peasant dish made with leftovers and other ingredients commonly found in an Italian pantry. Pasta e fagioli, (pronounced "pasta fazool"), simply means "pasta and beans" in Italian and makes a hearty, belly filling, and inexpensive meal,

Pasta fagioli is commonly made using cannellini beans or borlotti beans and some type of small pasta such as elbow macaroni or ditalini. The base is generally olive oil, garlic, minced onion, and spices, along with stewed tomato or tomato paste. Some variations do not include tomatoes at all, and are made from a broth. While this meatless bean soup is a good dish to serve during Lent, this is true comfort food and is a year-round go-to in our house.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 ½ cups cooked white beans
  • 2 cups cooked pasta (ditalini or elbow)
  • Freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil and then add the onions Sauté the onions until they are tender and translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for a few minutes until garlic is fragrant, and then add the tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 or so minutes before adding the cooked white beans (or a 15 oz. can of beans hat has been drained and rinsed) and chicken stock before simmering for another 20 minutes more.

While the soup simmers, cook the pasta according to package directions. To make 2 cups of cooked pasta, cook 1 cup dry pasta. Add the pasta to the soup about 5-10 minutes before serving to let the flavors meld.

Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Top with a zesty generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese and serve with some crusty bruschetta. Enjoy!