Pasta and beans simmered in herb-infused tomato sauce are the building blocks of this hearty Italian soup, Pasta e Fagioli. When you’re cooking for a crowd, in search of a budget-friendly meal, or craving a simple dish to please everyone at your family’s table, this is the soup for you.
When I was growing up in New York, my mom made plenty of Italian-inspired dishes — things like lasagna and chicken Parmesan — but it wasn’t until college when I visited my roommate’s family in Connecticut that I tried pasta e fagioli. Until recently, I had never made this dish myself (I’m not sure why I waited so long), but I always remembered it. I think it was the aroma and flavor of the fresh rosemary and garlic that had me hooked the second that spoon hit my lips.
When fellow dietitian, Alex Caspero, sent me her new cookbook, Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation, I poured through its pages, added about a dozen sticky notes, and ultimately gravitated to her version of pasta e fagioli. Alex makes it with ditalini pasta, cannellini beans, tomato sauce, rosemary, parsley, garlic, and spinach. It was the familiar ingredients that appealed to me, because I wanted to replicate the dish that I ate in college, but the dietitian in me also appreciated the addition of spinach. The more veggies the better as far as I’m concerned.
Alex joined me this week on Episode 2 of Liz’s Healthy Table. You can listen to the interview, read the show notes, and get Alex’s recipe for Roasted Vegetable Ziti on my Podcast page.
SO HEAD ON OVER!
But before you go, check out Alex’s Pasta e Fagioli recipe below and enter our GIVEAWAY for a signed copy of Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation. Just leave a comment at the end of the post and tell me about your family’s favorite Italian recipe and/or why you’d like to win the book. Giveaway ends May 24th at midnight. (US only entries, please.) ** Giveaway Now Closed **
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ small white onion, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more for extra kick)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3-4 fresh whole rosemary sprigs
- 1 (28 oz.) regular, plain tomato sauce
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 (15 oz.) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ lb ditalini pasta
- 2 cups spinach (I used baby spinach)
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the copped onion and a pinch each of sat, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until onion is translucent and soft. Add in the garlic and rosemary and cook for 30 seconds, taking care not to burn the herbs or garlic. Add the tomato sauce, parsley, and beans. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the ditalini pasta and cook until al dente, reserving 3 cups pasta water.
- Before serving, remove the rosemary stems, add the cooked pasta to the tomato and bean sauce, and thin with the reserved pasta water. You will probably not use all 3 cups. Add ½ cup at a time, stir, and add more if need be. Thin the tomato sauce until it resembles a soup broth. Stir in the spinach until wilted.
- This tastes even better the next day. If you have leftovers, add a little more pasta water before refrigerating.
Did you grow up eating pasta e fagioli? How did you family make it? I’d love to hear about your version.
Don’t forget to tune in to Liz’s Healthy Table and hear my interview with Alex Caspero, RD.
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