Pasta Fagioli

Well, after not really getting sick for two years, I’ve been hit with a whopper of a cold, in the middle of a July heat and humidity wave, no less. Regardless of the heat, what do most people crave when they’re buried under blankets on the couch all day (assuming there is central A/C involved)? Soup! And so soup is what I made tonight, and let me tell you – it soothed me just as I hoped it would. Pasta Fagioli reminds me of a small little cafe on the campus of my college (which I attended all too long ago) – I always used to stop there if I had a night class and get a cup of pasta fagioli. This soup is the ultimate in comfort – full, hearty, and paired with the garlic herb breadsticks I made, totally deserving of being a complete meal.

The original recipe for this soup called for ground beef, but I thought the Italian sausage would kick up the flavor a bit, and really, as an Italian, when is Italian sausage NOT a good alternative for beef? Right, never. I did the sauteed combination of onions, garlic, carrots, and celery as I usually find this imparts a large amount of flavor in broth-based soups. You’ll also find this method used in my Italian Wedding Soup and Beef Barley Soup. This recipe makes a tremendous amount of soup; it almost filled up my 8qt stock pot, so be prepared to have soup for a few days (which sounds good to me right now because I’m sick), freeze the leftovers, or scale down the recipe.

Pasta Fagioli

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Total Time: 2 hour

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 package sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
½ large (or 1 medium) onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
64 oz. beef broth
28 oz. can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
4 oz. small dry pasta

Directions:

1. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large stockpot over medium high heat, and brown the sausage, crumbling it as it cooks. Once brown, remove sausage from pot with a slotted spoon and discard any grease that remains in the pot.

2. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the same pot, and add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery, and saute over medium heat until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add sausage back to the pot, add the can of diced tomatoes (do not drain), stir briefly, and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the beans, and add the beef broth and tomato sauce. Add in all of the seasonings, stir well, turn the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Once it boils, turn down to low heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

4. Add the dry pasta and continue to simmer on low for another 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite bread or crackers.

(Adapted from Tricia's Kitchen)