Pasta Fagioli is one of those iconic Italian soups that seems to have as many versions as there are Italian grandmothers. We love it here at the Circle B Kitchen and make it quite frequently. Over the years I've tweaked and poked and altered my recipe, but I think that the version I make now is really where I want it.
Even though there are a bazillion versions of pasta fagioli out there, they all must include beans, pasta and a tomato broth of some sort. Of course, veggies are usually involved, but after that, it's every man for himself. This is my favorite kind of cooking... free-form, intuitive, and ultimately delicious and comforting.
So here's my recipe. I encourage you to add and subtract to suit your own tastes, but mostly, enjoy the cooking as much as the eating. Bon appetit!
Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (or 1/2 large onion)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
½ lb bulk sweet Italian sausage or remove casing from the links
1 teaspoons dry oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 or 1½ cups marinara sauce
2-3 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb ditalini or mezzi tubetti
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Lots of grated parmesan cheese
Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium high heat. Add crumbled sausage and brown. Add onion, celery, carrot and sauté for about 10 minutes or until fairly soft. Stir in garlic, basil, oregano and crushed red pepper.
Stir in marinara sauce, the beans, salt and pepper and stock.
Reduce heat and simmer several minutes, partially covered. Meanwhile cook your pasta in lots of boiling, salted water and drain. Return to the pasta pot and drizzle with a little olive oil. Stir olive oil to coat the pasta and put the lid on the pot to keep it warm.
To serve, spoon some of the pasta into a shallow sided pasta bowl. Spoon the soup mixture over the pasta. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese.
Note: If you are keeping leftovers, store the pasta separately from the soup as it will swell and get mushy.