It’s soup season… finally! Other parts of the country have had chilly weather, which means to me, soup season. But really, I can have soup year around. My family, not so much. This is a family favorite of mine because it reminds me of my Grandma Elaine. This isn’t her recipe (going to have to get that from my cousin) but it’s Pasta Fagioli and that alone to me is grandma. It is actually a Christmas Eve tradition that hasn’t been much of a tradition the last few years. So this is me trying to fit it some where into the Christmas season. Its December, so that is a start!
The great thing about this is, because it is a soup, there are many ways to make it. You can add Cannellini beans (white or northern beans) or Kidney. You can add ground beef, Italian sausage or no meat at all. Macaroni pasta or Gnocchi. Which is nice because gives you a few more ways to use up what you have in the pantry. Spaghetti sauce or crushed tomatoes or whatever tomatoes you do have on hand. Chicken, beef or vegetable broth. I tend to have some or all of these ingredients on hand, so this is a great “what am I making for dinner?” meal.
My grandma used Spaghetti sauce when she made her Pasta Fagioli. Always homemade! 100% Italian… there was no other way! Homemade is super easy! But believe me, I am a mom of 3, so a jar of spaghetti sauce is a staple in my pantry. There are plenty of nights I don’t want to cook. And spaghetti is one of the easiest things to whip up. Okay, back to Pasta Fagioli…. I did not use spaghetti sauce this time. I didn’t have any in the freezer, or pantry, nor did I want to make any. (fail) I did have frozen tomatoes from the summer that I prepared. (win!) If you’ve never “canned” tomatoes. (I freeze mine) Try it, totally worth it. Takes a little time, but it is super simple. And if you’re going to do spend the time to can tomatoes, do A LOT! You’re doing the work anyways! It really doesn’t take that long.
PASTA FAGIOLI (sorry, I get sidetracked) I cook my pancetta in a separate pan because I don’t want all the oil from that in my soup. So I cook it in a small frying pan while I am sautéing my onions. I use my cast iron “one pot wonder“! And I love it! I make so many meals in that thing! If you have one you know what I am talking about. If you don’t have one, and can get one, I highly recommend! Now, once the pancetta is cooked, and my onions are sautéed, I transfer the pancetta into the onion pot. I usually fold up a few paper towels and spoon out the pancetta on it. Helps soak up a lot of the oil. Then I’ll spoon out maybe a teaspoon of the pancetta oil and add it to the pot. A little is fine, it does add wanted flavor. Then the garlic, get that all mixed and the flavor coming out. About a min or two. Then add your broth. It really can be chicken, beef or vegetable. This time I used vegetable. Then added my nearly defrosted canned tomatoes. Added my herbs and spices and let that simmer for at least an hour. I let mine cook for about 2 1/2. Then I added my can of beans and my mini gnocchi I found at World Market! Added the beans and the gnocchi about 30 min before I am ready to serve. Beans just need to warm up and gnocchi take about 3 min. I like to cook mine longer to get all the flavors into the beans and gnocchi. This can be a quick and easy meal or you can drag it out a bit like I did today.
- 1 small Onion diced
- Pancetta cubed
- 3 cloves Garlic minced
- 2 cups Vegetable broth
- 2 cups Water
- 15 oz Cannellini Beans drained
- 16 oz Gnocchi
- 1 tbsp Parsley dried or fresh - finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Basil dried or fresh - finely chopped
- 1 tsp Salt or more to taste
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 28 oz Crushed Tomatoes
- Saute onion and pancetta in a big soup pot til onions are clear and pancetta starts to brown.
- Add garlic and stir for a min or two, til fragrant
- Add in your broth, water and tomatoes. Then your salt, pepper and herbs. Simmer for at least and hour.
- Taste your soup base and see if you need to add anymore salt, pepper or herbs to your taste.
- About 20-30 min before you are ready to serve. Add in your beans and gnocchi. *You can cook your gnocchi in a separate pot of water then drain and add to your soup base or add it straight in and cook it there.
- Serve and Enjoy!!