When F-stop came home on Saturday evening, I decided to cook him a comforting old stand-by of mine: Pasta e Fagioli, otherwise known as Pasta "Fazool" – much easier for non-Italian speakers to pronounce. The name means "pasta and beans," and there are as many versions of this naturally vegan Italian peasant dish as there are cooks. This is my no-brainer interpretation.
What makes Mamma Dynise's Pasta "Fazool" different?
- The addition of a large, finely chopped bunch of Swissh chard or spinach. Besides adding color, fiber and vitamins, it's an easy way to boost the broth's flavor.
- Partially "muddling" the soup with an immersion blender just before adding the pasta, and balance of the beans and greens. This makes for a heartier, thicker soup– important during cold winter weather. It also makes the soup easier to digest since the blending "pre-chews" some of the beans and greens ––important when you are under the weather.
Easy Pasta "Fazool"
- 3 T olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 9 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- About 3 cups of water or vegetable broth, plus more if soup gets too thick
- 2 T dried parsley
- 1 T dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 15-16 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, divided (2/3 plus 1/3)
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed and very finely chopped, divided (2/3 plus 1/3)
- Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- About 1 cup of small pasta [eg, macaroni, ditalini, small shells]
Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients [only 2/3 of the chard and beans] except for pasta. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer partially covered for about 2-3 hours, adding more broth or water as needed. Keep tasting the broth and cook it slowly until it pleases your palate.
Once the broth flavor meets with your approval, roughly puree it with an immersion blender [or carefully transfer in batch and puree in a blender]. You don't have to be perfect here; it's just a rough muddling to mash some of the beans and greens into the broth. If you like a chunkier soup, process less. For a smoother soup, process more.
Add more broth if needed and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and the remaining 1/3 of chard and beans. Cook until the pasta is al dente, according to package directions, usually about 9-12 minutes. Al dente is very important here, because the pasta will get extra soggy as it sits in the broth.
Adjust seasonings and serve with crusty bread, topped with nutritional yeast.
Note: This soup gets thicker as you store it in the 'fridge, so add more water or broth as needed to thin it out.