Pasta e fagioli literally means "pasta & beans", and is a traditional meatless Italian dish. It's also known as "pasta fazool" from the Sicilian slang term. Typically, pasta e fagioli contains white beans such as cannellini beans as well as a small pasta. Nowadays, most restaurants do serve it with some form of meat, as do I. However, the soup is just as good & hearty without the meat.
This soup varies greatly in different regions and in different restaurants. Typically the base remains the same, with various diced vegetables and diced tomatoes or even leftover tomato sauce. My version contains two kinds of beans, ditalini pasta and mild italian sausage. This is a great recipe for cleaning out the fridge or pantry, but be warned - this recipe makes a LOT. However, the ingredients are fairly inexpensive, so this is a great meal to make over a weekend to save for weekday lunches.
Pasta e Fagioli
1 lb mild Italian sausage, removed from casings
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 red onions, minced
4 medium carrots, peeled & diced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 15oz cans cannellini or Great Northern beans (do not drain)
2 15oz cans kidney beans (do not drain)
2 15oz cans diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 quart chicken broth
1 quart vegetable broth
1 cup water
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 lb ditalini pasta, cooked (or any small pasta)
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Pasta, spices, cheese, garlic, diced tomatoes, beans, Italian sausage & red wine vinegar
Diced celery, carrots and red onion
Homemade vegetable stock & chicken (foot) stock.
First, brown the crumbled Italian sausage in a large stock pot until browned. Remove from pot and drain on paper towels.
Heat the oil in the same pot and saute the onions until softened. Add the rosemary & garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
Add the broths (if you use a concentrated stock like my chicken foot stock, use a 1:1 ratio of congealed stock to water), water, beans, tomatoes, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, basil and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions or until al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the stockpot along with the cooked sausage and red wine vinegar.
Ditalini reminds me of the perler beads that kids place on molds and then fuse together with an iron.
Don't forget to fish out the bay leaves. Unlike the baby in a king cake, you REALLY don't want to get the bay leaf.
Season to taste with additional salt, pepper and red wine vinegar if desired. Garnish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano before serving.