Nona’s Pasta e Fagioli

Sometimes referred to as Pasta Fazool this hearty autumn/winter delight is as delicious and filling as it is healthy and nutritious
Sometimes referred to as Pasta Fazool this hearty autumn/winter delight is as delicious and filling as it is healthy and nutritious

Full disclosure, neither of my grandmothers was ‘Nona’. They were both ‘Grannies’. One was originally from the UK and the other was as Quebecois as is humanly possible. So, where did Nona’s Pasta e Fagiloli come from? I live in a city with the largest population of ex patriot Italiani outside of Italy and worked for more than a decade at North America’s longest running and largest daily Italian language newspaper. Briefly, this recipe comes from someone else’s Nona… and, it’s awesome!

The key to this wonderful soup are the beans. Pasta e Fagioli usually features cannellini beans which are often also the stars of that other Italian favourite, Minestrone. Popular in southern and central Italian regions like Calabria or Tuscany, they have a smooth nutty flavour and are often referred to as white kidney beans. They’re also very similar to white navy beans or haricots which are found throughout the UK. Either could be a good substitute if you can’t find cannelinni in cans or dry at your local supermarket. They’re also great company in many fish or chicken dishes and vegetarians often use them as a hearty substitute for either.

Nutritionally, canellini are great source of protein with a single serving delivering 15 grams, about a third of your daily requirement. They are also low fat and low cal. A single serving contains 225 calories and only a single gram of fat. Cannellini are also powerful sources of iron, magnesium and folate which support oxygenation of blood, digestion and help in the fight against high blood pressure, anemia, heart disease and stroke.

Scroll through how to make this delicious soup and, if you like what you see, don’t forget to ‘like’ and ‘follow’.

Pancetta, onions, carrots, celery, white wine, broth, lentils, tomatoes and cannellini beans combine to make this hearty soup the fall favourite it is.
INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced (or bacon)
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 medium ribs celery, finely diced
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5 ounce) cans cannellini beans (or chickpeas or a combination), rinsed and drained
1/4 cup dried lentils, rinsed (either green or brown lentils)
1 cup diced or chopped canned tomatoes, with their juices
3/4 cup dried pasta, ditalini (but any kind works and whole wheat is fine too)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
SPICES
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat  and add the pancetta
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat and add the pancetta.
Cook until the fat begins to render, about 5 minutes
Cook until the fat begins to render, about 5 minutes
Add the onion, carrot and celery and increase the heat to medium...
Add the onion, carrot and celery and increase the heat to medium…
Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes
… cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes
Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn
Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn
Add the wine and cook until it has nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes
Add the wine and cook until it has nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes
Add the broth, salt, pepper
Add the broth, salt, pepper…
Add beans
…beans…
Add lentils
… , lentils…
Add diced tomatoes
diced tomatoes…
Add the spices
bay leaves and rosemary.
Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender, 15-30 minutes
Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender, 15-30 minutes, depending on the type of lentils in the pot.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer 1 cup of the bean mixture and a little liquid to a blender
It’s a Veteran Move to use a slotted spoon to transfer 1 cup of the bean mixture and a little liquid to Veteran Tool # 6: your blender, to make the soup a little thicker.
Remove the center knob so steam can escape. Hold a paper towel or kitchen towel over the opening to prevent splatters
More Veteran Moves: remove the center knob of the blender so steam can escape.
Hold a paper towel or kitchen towel over the opening to prevent splatters.
Purée until smooth and set aside
Purée until smooth and set aside.
Add the dried pasta to the pot and stir to incorporate
Add the dried pasta to the pot and stir to incorporate.  
Turn the heat up to a gentle boil and cook until the pasta is tender but still a little firm, up to 12 minutes
Turn the heat up to a gentle boil and cook until the pasta is tender but still a little firm, up to 12 minutes depending on the type of pasta you used.
The soup will thicken a bit by the time the pasta is cooked.
Fish out and discard the bay leaves.
Stir the reserved puréed bean mixture into the soup
Stir the reserved puréed bean mixture into the soup. (you may have to remove it with a rubber spatula. If a lot is still stuck in the blender, add some of the hot soup broth to it and swirl it around to loosen it.)
Keep cooking until the soup is heated through.
Remove the soup from heat and stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano
Remove the soup from heat and stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
If the soup seems too thick, gradually add water or more chicken broth.
This will thin it to whatever thickness you prefer.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into bowls
Ladle the soup into bowls.
You can drizzle each portion with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and/or sprinkle it with more cheese.

Note: This soup is best served immediately. If it sits the pasta and beans soak up the broth. If the soup gets too thick, you can always thin it with a bit more broth or even water.

Try this recipe. If you like it… even if you don’t… please comment and like the blog. Come back and see us some time!

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