Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta and Bean Soup)

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By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

Rich nourishing bone broth with frugal beans and pasta make Pasta e Fagioli  perfect for a large family dinner on a cold night.

(Kimi – This recipe is a perfect example of how simple and delicious it is to get beautiful, nourishing, health-building broth into your family, which is why we wanted to share it along with my post, 10 reasons homemade broth should be part of your diet!  Read the introduction to our series, 21 steps to a nourishing diet, and find out what a nourishing diet can and cannot do for you here. )

This recipe can be easily adapted for gluten-free and vegetarian diets by using vegetable broth instead of chicken, and eliminating the pasta completely or using a gluten-free brand of macaroni instead. Kimi recommends this brand. (Amazon links are affiliate)

Pasta e Fagioli is traditionally a peasant dish, as the ingredients are incredibly frugal. This particular recipe is one that my Italian family has been using for multiple generations. Even today when I walk into my 93 year old grandfather’s kitchen, this soup, bubbling away in his big aluminum pot, always comes to my mind.

My mother lovingly served our family this soup all throughout my childhood. “Bean Soup” nights were always my favorite! It wasn’t until after I graduated from college, and moved overseas for a year, that I finally learned to make it myself. I was living in China, and missing the traditional Italian food that was so easily accessible in the states. That was the year that I learned how to cook for myself from scratch, continuing the tradition of passing this recipe down the family line.

This soup is easily adaptable to whatever ingredients you have on hand. My grandfather, and mother, would frequently use a scoop of marinara sauce, instead of diced tomatoes. If you make this during the summer, fresh diced tomatoes, and herbs from the garden would work great as well. I like my pasta e fagioli heavy on the garlic, and with a nice kick from the crushed red pepper. You can adapt this to your family’s taste quickly and easily.

To keep this soup as frugal as possible, it’s best to use dried cannellini (or white kidney) beans. By soaking the beans overnight to remove irritating phytic acid, cooking them, and adding them to the rest of the ingredients, you’ve saved quite a bit of money! If you’re in a pinch, and need a fast meal, canned beans work great too. I often use Eden Organic’s canned cannellini beans, because the beans have been soaked and cooked with kombu seaweed, and their cans are BPA-free. They are a little pricy, but are a very good option if you are not able to use dried beans.

This soup is always better the next day, after the flavors have melded together overnight. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, enjoy a bowl for a wonderfully nourishing lunch!

Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta and Bean Soup)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 6-8
 
This nourishing soup will warm your family up on cold winter nights! The recipe can be easily adapted to your taste buds or dietary needs.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5-6 Cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 15oz Cans of cannellini beans (I like Eden Organic's BPA-free canned beans), or 1½ cups of dried cannellini beans that have been soaked overnight, and cooked (about 5 cups cooked)
  • 7 Cups of chicken broth (vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
  • 1 Cup chopped tomatoes (I love Pomi chopped tomatoes in a BPA-free carton)
  • ½ teaspoon Dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon. Dried oregano
  • ⅛-1/2 teaspoon. Crushed red pepper flakes, depending on how much "kick" you like
  • 1lb Ditalini pasta, or other short cut pasta like elbow macaroni or tubetti (a gluten-free pasta can be easily substituted as well)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • OPTIONAL: Parmesan cheese and chopped flat leaf parsley
Instructions
  1. In a large pot heat the olive oil, and sauté the minced garlic for a minute or two. Be sure that it doesn't brown.
  2. Add your beans (previously cooked, or canned with liquid), broth, tomatoes, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.
  3. Allow the soup to simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Shortly before the soup is done, boil salted water for the pasta, and cook it al dente according to the package.
  5. When serving, spoon ¼-1/2 cup of the pasta into bowls, and ladle soup on top. I prefer not to store any leftover pasta in the leftover soup as it typically soaks up a lot of the broth and becomes soggy.
  6. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese or freshly chopped parsley on top.

Other soups you may enjoy:

Weekend Pasta Feast

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On a slow Saturday afternoon, I rolled out some fresh, soaked whole wheat pasta, and then, while Joel grilled some veggies, I made a simple and yummy sauce featuring tomatoes, parsley, chicken broth, white wine, and mild Italian sausage. I cut up the grilled veggies, cooked up the fresh pasta, and then tossed it all together. The result was delightful. Definitely a little more time and work then my normal dinner plans, but so worth it for a nice weekend dinner with extended family. I will share a simpler version of this pasta sauce soon.

I think that there is something so right about Italian food and family get togethers! There is nothing like a huge bowl of pasta in front of hungry family members for good family time.

Despite the fact that this dish has it’s root’s squarely in Italy, there was something about the play of sweetness from the wine, the veggies and the garlic spears that reminded us of Yakisoba! Well, whatever it tasted like, it was good!
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Homemade Buckwheat Soba Noodles (Gluten Free)

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Did you know that you can make your own buckwheat soba noodles? We found that homemade buckwheat noodles taste twice as good as the 100 percent buckwheat soba noodles we’ve bought before, and cost half as much. Mild, tender, and delicious, they are the perfect foundation for a beautiful pasta dish, and you can even serve them to a gluten free guest!

I choose to make these buckwheat noodles out of 100 % buckwheat, so they are completely gluten free. Buckwheat, by the way, is not at all related to wheat. It’s not even considered a “grain”, but rather is a highly nutritious “seed”.

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