Pasta e fagioli

“Pasta e fagioli” that means “pasta and beans” in Italian started as a peasant dish, being composed of inexpensive ingredients. The recipe I propose to you is a kind of beans soup with orzo -or any other short pasta you have at hand- and you may prepare it as a soup or as a beans giouvetsi (traditional Greek orzo casserole)! If you are vegan or you engage into fasting you are going to love it! Optionally, you may add parmesan cheese.

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Ingredients

  • 250 g beans, soaked overnight if possible
  • Salt
  • 4 carrots, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • ⅓ cup of extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 500 g can tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 250 g orzo or small pasta
  • Finely grated Parmesan, crushed red pepper for topping (optional)

Instructions

  • Pulse carrots, leek, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.
  • Heat ⅓ cup of extra virgin olive oil in a large pot.
  • Add chopped vegetables, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until vegetables start to sweat out some of their liquid, about 4 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so and reducing heat if mixture starts to brown, until vegetables are softened and juicy, about 15 minutes.
  • Uncover and keep cooking, stirring and scraping bottom of pot every 5 minutes, until veggies start to brown in places, about 10 minutes more.
  • Add beans, tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil and then add bay leaves.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Cook soup with lid askew, adding water (or stock, if you have it) as needed to keep beans submerged by 5 cm, until beans are very tender, 1–3 hours, depending on size of beans.
  • Cook orzo or pasta in a large pot of boiling well-salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions.
  • Drain pasta and add to soup, then taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. (Do not try to skip a step by cooking the pasta in the soup. The pasta will absorb all the available liquid and the liquid will be thick and gummy).
  • Divide soup among bowls. Top with Parmesan, optionally, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Serve with bread for dunking.

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