Sunday, January 24, 2010

Magazine Mondays Italian Pasta and Bean Soup

My husband has fond memories of his Italian grandmother's kitchen.  He talks about the old iron skillet she used that retained the seasonings of all her cooking so that anything cooked in it was already flavored.  One of her soups was called "ditalini" by the family because that was the kind of pasta used in it, but was called Pasta Fazool by Ma.  I've made this soup many times but I'm always ready to try a new version of it.  This week's recipe for Magazine Mondays comes from Cook's Illustrated Soups & Stews, Winter 2008.  This recipe is quite a bit different from Ma's version but is very very good. 
In this version pancetta or bacon (I used bacon) is cooked in a little olive oil.  Onion and celery are added and cooked until soft.  Garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes and anchovy are added and sauteed a little longer.  So far the only changes I made were that I added half as much garlic and 1/4 as much dried oregano.  I don't care for a strong oregano flavor in soup.  The recipe calls for diced tomatoes with juice.  I didn't have that so I substituted 1/2 as much tomato puree.  Tasting it at that point told me it was just right so far.  Then I added the parmesan cheese rind and cannellini beans and simmered a while.  Finally it was time to add the chicken stock, some water and salt. When that came to a boil, I added the pasta.  While I usually add ditalini, I tried orzo this time. (The article gives four different choices for pasta.)  When the soup was done, I removed the parmesan rind and added some chopped parsley.

Finally, to serve the soup, I sprinkled freshly-grated parmesan and more parsley on top.

This soup is loaded with flavor.  The pepper flakes add some heat and the anchovies just add a subtle depth to the flavor.  The only caution I would make here is don't add more salt than called for unless you taste it first.  When I make this soup again, I'll make it exactly the same way I did today.  My husband said it was really good soup, however, he said, "Just don't call it "ditalini", because it's not the same as Ma's."  (Hers was much simpler.  I'll make her version soon.)


creampuff said...

So lovely, Poppyseed! Looks perfect for a cold winter night!

Nova Walsh: said...

The soup looks wonderful - perfect for cold weather! I really enjoyed the quotes also. They're really uplifting (just what one needs to read early in the morning).

The Food Hunter said...

This is one of my favorites!

Sarah said...

I love Italian soup like this. Thanks for the recipe.

Rebecca said...

This looks delicious.I love beans in soup. I think it would go very well with a loaf of olive bread I have in the cupboard!

ButterYum said...

Pasta Fazool is what my family calls it too. Wonderful soup!!!