The frigid weather we’ve had over the past couple weeks had left my family in the mood for a “comfort” soup without all the calories that “comfort” usually brings. I had made pasta e fagioli before and it was really good, but I knew it could be better. Over the weekend I looked at a bunch of different recipes and combined what I thought were the best parts of each. I made it earlier this week and everyone in the house loved it. There are a few changes I would make for next time, so I am just going to include those below…. Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list. This is actually very simple to get onto the stove – then you can enjoy a glass (or two) of wine while it simmers!
You will need:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped (or 1 full onion if it’s small)
- 1 and 1/2 pounds ground beef (I like to use ground beef, however this soup typically uses an Italian sausage. My kids prefer ground beef and I think it’s a perfect substitute. Most recipes also call for 1 pound of meat. I use more because with three boys, we need it!)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, shredded or cut into short, thin strips (I did not use carrots this time but would add in next time for sure)
- 2 stalks celery, diced (another one I didn’t use this time but would definitely add in next)
- 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup water
- 15 oz. can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp basil (optional – my husband hates it so we never use it!)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup ditalini pasta
- Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley to garnish
- In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil and the meat. Cook until browned and little to no pink remains.
- Add the chicken stock, wine and water.
- In a food processor, puree the tomatoes and their juices until they are a consistency you enjoy (my kids don’t like chunks of tomato in their food so I puree until mostly smooth). Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil.
- Add the beans then mix in the seasonings. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed (the amount you will need will vary depending on the type of meat you are using). I add about 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper at this point. Simmer for at least one hour (up to 90 minutes if you have time – my kids were starving and I let simmer for about 30 minutes and the beans were not as flavorful as we wanted).
- When you are ready to eat, bring the soup back to a boil and add the pasta. It will absorb a LOT more liquid than you probably expect. If you want this to be more “soupy” add about 1/2 cup pasta. If you would like more of a stew consistency you can add 3/4 to 1 cup pasta. Cook according to the instructions on the package.
- Top with Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley if desired!
(This is how it thickens with the pasta after sitting a while. I added too much pasta this time around, though no one complained!!)