You may have noticed, it’s cold out there. Times like this, I don’t feel like leaving the apartment, much less lugging around groceries. Good thing I’ve got a killer recipe in my cookbook for Pasta e Fagioli, aka Pasta Fazool, aka a soul-satisfying, simple soup of beans, tomatoes, and pasta. Not only is it hearty enough to serve as dinner, it’s also ready in less than half an hour. And I’ll bet you’ve got all the ingredients in your pantry right now.
Go ahead, check. I’ll be right here. Eating leftovers for lunch, swiping a crust of bread across the bottom of the bowl to get every last, luscious bit.
Quick Pasta e Fagioli
NOTE: This makes terrific leftovers, but you’ll likely find that it’s thickened up considerably. If so, add a little water or broth when reheating.
One 15- to 16-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional; leave out if serving to infants)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
One 28-ounce can crushed or chopped tomatoes, with juice (I use a box of Pomi brand chopped tomatoes)
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Parmesan rind (approx. 2”), optional
1 1/2 cups small pasta, about 1/2 pound (ditalini, elbows, small shells, broken-up spaghetti—whatever you’ve got)
Salt & pepper
Good-quality olive oil, for serving
Grated Parmesan, for serving
Crusty bread, for serving
- Put roughly half the cannellini beans in a blender or food processor with 3 tablespoons of water. Puree, and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it turns translucent—about 3 minutes.
- Add the carrot and celery and cook another minute or two, just to take the hard edge off.
- Add the garlic and the optional red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until you can smell the garlic, about 30 seconds.
- Reduce heat to low and add the tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until it darkens and seems to melt into the vegetables, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, the broth, the bay leaf, the oregano, and the Parmesan rind. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the whole beans and the pasta and simmer, covered, over low heat until pasta is barely cooked, 8-10 minutes. Stir several times, especially in the first few minutes, to keep pasta from sticking to the pot.
- Stir in the reserved pureed beans and simmer another minute or two, uncovered, until pasta is fully cooked but not mushy. Taste, and add salt and pepper as desired—if you used low-sodium beans and broth, you may need as much as a teaspoon.
- Remove the bay leaf and the Parmesan rind before serving. Drizzle the good olive oil over each bowl, and pass the grated Parmesan.
MAKE BABY FOOD: If your baby’s eaten cooked tomatoes, there’s nothing in here she can’t have. The texture should be just right to serve as finger food, or if you prefer, puree it.