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Pasta e Fagioli alla Veneta (Venetian White Bean Soup with Pasta)

01/04/2010

In case you missed it, it’s really cold outside. And I’m pretty sure no one missed that since all of the contiguous states experienced below normal temperatures. I’ve heard from a reliable source that they are currently wearing turtleneck sweaters in Miami–it’s below 60!

At any rate, cold weather and snowy days clearly call for a hardy bowl of soup. And since I currently have time on my hands and my mom is always searching for new protein-rich recipes to feed my vegetarian sister, I decided to play in the kitchen.

In addition to the various other cultural notes that have influenced my life, Italian is a major one. I have no relatives from Italy, I have never been to Italy, and I do not speak any Italian. However, sometimes my dad thinks he’s Italian and 3/4 of the cookbooks in my mom’s cupboard are related to Italian cooking. Last night I started flipping through Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen by Joyce Goldstein and found this recipe. It was just what I was looking for–thick, warm (obviously), minimal ingredients, and it involved white beans. I really love white beans, but have only really eaten them in meat dishes. While this recipe does call for tiny beef meatballs, I made it without and still lapped up every bite. To a good year of food in 2010!

Pasta e Fagioli alla Veneta
Adapted from Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen
Serves 6

1 3/4 cup dried white or borlotti beans, picked over and rinsed
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 box of dried pasta
About 2 cups of broth
2 cups Swiss chard or spinach, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the beans in a saucepan with cold water to cover generously and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for one hour. Drain well, add fresh water to cover, and bring to a boil again.

Warm four tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute until softened, about 10 minutes. Add to the beans and return to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the bean mixture from the heat. Scoop out and reserve about two cups of the beans. Puree the remaining beans in a food processor or using an immersion blender. Place the puree, the reserved beans, and any cooking liquid into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. If the mixture is too thick, thin with hot water.

While the soup is reheating, cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente, then drain and add to the soup. Pour in broth. Add greens, if desired, and simmer for ten minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon so that beans don’t get stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add hot water if the soup is too thick.

Just before serving, season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle into warmed bowls and grind a little pepper over the top and serve.

Pasta Fagioli on Foodista

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