I think it’s probably very likely that for many Midwesterners like myself, their first exposure to pasta e fagioli was at The Olive Garden. Unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks can’t be beat! Even if your culinary tastes are somewhat more refined these days, this is a hearty, healthy (and cheap) soup that’s great with crusty bread or toast!
- 100 g bacon lardons (thick cut bacon cut into strips)
- 2 TB olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 stalks celery, finely diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and medium diced
- 400 g can of tomato sauce
- 150 g chopped frozen spinach
- 1/4 tsp fennel seed
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 500 ml chicken or vegetable broth
- 1200 ml water
- 400 g cannellini or Santa Pau beans
- 1 cup small pasta
- secret ingredient: parmesan rind (optional – when I finish a wedge of parmesan cheese I chuck it in a ziploc in the freezer)
Brown the bacon in a large pot (I use a 5.5 liter pot) over medium high heat. When the bacon is browned, swirl in the olive oil, reduce the heat to medium and sauté the onions until they start to become translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the celery and carrot and cook until they start to become soft, about 10 min.
Add the red pepper flakes, herbs, tomato sauce, spinach, broth and water. Chuck that parmesan rind in if you have it! Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 min. Add the beans and allow to gently simmer for 10 more minutes. Adjust for salt and pepper. Finally, add the pasta and simmer until al dente.
Serve with bread and grated parmesan.
It’s nearly that time of year again! Joel actually remarked to me yesterday that he’s tired of summer now and would like for it to be colder. A definite case of “beware of what you wish for!” But I tend to agree if only in that I am really hankering for some fall/winter food. It’s time for stews, casseroles, roasted vegetables and other hearty comfort food. It seems like everyone’s got a recipe for white chicken chili (my mom’s is particularly tasty) but this incarnation is a product of cupboard-scouring. Since most of the ingredients are staples (in my house at least) it makes for a quick and healthy mid-week supper.
- 500 g chicken breast, cut into 2″ chunks
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 Italian green peppers (cubanelle peppers), de-seeded and diced
- small tin (200 g) of pickled jalapeños, drained and roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sweet pimentón (paprika)
- 1/2 tsp smoked pimentón
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 500 ml chicken stock
- large jar (500 g) white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup (250 ml) frozen corn kernels
Heat the oil over medium heat in a soup pot or dutch oven. Lightly sauté the onions, garlic and green peppers just until they start to become soft. Stir in the jalapeños, herbs and spices. Add the raw chicken and the stock. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken chunks with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl to cool slightly. Add the corn and beans to the pot and continue to simmer. When the chicken has cooled, shred the meat with your fingers and add back to the pot. Add a bit more stock/water as necessary to achieve desired consistency. Simmer for another 15 minutes over medium-low heat, occasionally stirring gently so you don’t beat up the beans. Adjust salt/pepper to taste. Serve on its own or with a bit of shredded cheddar or sour cream.
Servings: Four generous bowls. 449 calories (without added cheese, etc.)