“When the stars make you drool, just-a like pasta fazool, that’s amore…” It has been getting pretty chilly around here, and you know what that means –’tis the season for soup! We make lots of chicken based soups, but sometimes, you’re just in a mood that only a bacon and beef based broth can satisfy. Pasta e fagioli, literally “pasta and beans” in Italian, is a simple soup that’s packed with flavor. It’s also surprisingly easy and plus, I’ll bet you can’t help but hum Dean Martin’s That’s Amore as this simmers on the stove.
Another perk of making “pasta fazool” — not only can you whip it up in a jiffy, the ingredients list is largely made up of shelf stable items commonly in stock in the pantry. Just… make sure you have a working can opener. (Without one, it was a lot of extra unnecessary effort getting those tomatoes and beans out of their aluminum shields… not speaking from experience at all, but just saying – if you need advice on how to pop open a can without a proper can opener, shoot me an email.)
2-3 strips bacon (I used thick-cut applewood smoked bacon), sliced into lardons
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3-4 dried bay leaves
(Optional: sprinkle of dried red pepper flakes)
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14 ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans
1 32 fl oz (quart) beef stock
1/2 lb small pasta, like ditalini, stars, orzo, etc.
Salt & pepper to taste
Step 1: I like to use the same cutting board whenever I can, so first, mince the garlic and set aside. Take out the bacon strips and cut into large lardon-like pieces.
Step 2: Heat a stock pot over high heat. Saute the lardons and render the fat.
Step 3: When the bacon has cooked through, add the garlic. Once the garlic has just barely started to brown, sprinkle in the herbs and red pepper flakes, if desired.
Step 4: Add both the tomatoes and cannellini beans. Mix around and heat on medium / medium-high for a few minutes.
Step 5: Pour in the beef stock and cover to quickly bring to a boil.
Step 6: Once the soup has reached a boil, add in the pasta. This is also a good chance to taste the soup and season as needed. Keep in mind that the stock and bacon are inevitably salty.
Step 7: Continue to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the pasta reaches al dente texture. Serve immediately.
Makes about 4 hearty servings of soup. It’s best to only make enough for same-day consumption as the pasta continues to expand the longer it sits in the soup. (Still delicious, even though my lunch of leftovers was more saucy than soupy.)