Pasta e Fagioli, or Italian bean soup with pasta, dates back to the Roman Empire. A common dish, it was prepared with black eyed peas, the only bean available at the time. When the dish migrated to America, using beans like Cannellini were exclusively served to the rich and noble, while the poor and working-class kept going to eat the “old” black eye peas.
This recipe comes from Cooks Country, part of the innovative America’s Test Kitchen family. In this case, the innovation is two time-saving methods: one to puree half the beans with water to thicken the soup, and secondly to cook the pasta in the soup.
Comforting Pasta e Fagioli
- Food Processor
- Soup Pot
- 2 15 oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed kidney beans also work
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
- 2 large onions chopped fine
- 2 large carrots peeled and chopped fine
- 1 rib celery chopped fine
- 2 ounces pancetta or bacon (optioal) chopped fine
- ¾ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes optional
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup pasta, dry ditalini, elbow
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese grated (1 cup), plus extra for serving
- ½ cup basil finely chopped fresh
- Process 1 can of beans and water in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Set aside.
- Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, carrots, celery, pancetta (if using), salt, and pepper and cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, garlic, and pepper flakes, if using, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth, remaining can of beans, and pureed bean mixture. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors have melded, about 10 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium and bring to boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, about 12 minutes. Off heat, stir in Parmesan and basil. Serve, drizzled with extra oil and passing extra Parmesan separately.