If you are not Italian or know someone Italian you may never have heard of Pasta e Fagioli. When I was a little girl my Nana & Grandpi made this soup quite often, but it was not my favorite dish. It wasn't until years later that I realized how good it really is. You see I was in the North End of Boston (the Italian section) with some friends when we found this hole in the wall family restaurant, which sad to say I have no idea what is the name of the restaurant, but I do know it is family owned and operated. It was a cold winter day and all I really wanted was something warm and comforting and I think the cheapest and most filling dish on the menu. That was Pasta e Fagioli, it was so yummy I still think about it whenever I make mine.
Pasta e Fagioli is for the most part peasant food since it is pasta and beans, two very cheep ingredients that can fill you up and serve many. But don't let that stray you away from making it. It is so yummy. I will say I have been told that my version is quite fancy but why not, when you have the ingredients use them.
Pasta e Fagioli
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/8 lb. pancetta, diced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon chili powder or crushed red chili's
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 carrots finely chopped
2 ribs of celery finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic chopped
salt n pepper to taste
2 cans of beans (cannelloni, garbanzo, or kidney your choice)
1 cup canned tomato sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup water
1 quart chicken stock
1 1/2 cups of ditalini pasta
grated Romano or parmigiana
Heat a stock pot over medium high heat and add oil and pancetta. When pancetta is browned add the herbs, vegetables, and garlic. Season with salt n pepper to taste. But be careful how much salt you use since Pancetta is a cured meat. Brown the veggies, then add the beans, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, and chicken stock, and raise heat to high. Bring it to a boil. At this point you can add the pasta, and cook for 6-8 minutes. Or what I like to do is let it simmer on the stove for a few hours so all the flavors meld. Then before I plan on serving I make the pasta.
When serving it is best to grate cheese over each bowl, either Romano or parmigiana.
What I can say is my Grandpi is very proud to eat my version, even though it is not like his. But one thing to remember mine will never be like his even if I make his version ... there is always something that makes Grandpi's different than mine. But the fact that I make Pasta e Fagioli now brings back all the memories of being in Nana and Grandpi's kitchen, and what great Grandparents I had and still have.
This is so Yummy ... you got to try it. YUM!!!