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Monday, February 20, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Bean soup)

In the US most Italian-Americans call this Pasta Fazul. This is probably because most of their ancestors come from the southern tip of the Italian boot, and this is the translation of their dialect.  That pronunciation isn’t Italian.  It is really pronounced Pasta Fa-jo-li.

This is another peasant dish.  Both delicious and nutritious, and no longer just for peasants, you find it in restaurants all over the City.  I love this dish.  It’s perfect on freezing winter afternoons.  Plus, the second day you can either rehydrate it as a soup (the pasta drinks all the liquid) or you can eat it with a fork, it’s a totally different meal.

The pasta you use should hold the sauce.  Great pastas to use are: Conchigliette (small shells), Funghini (little mushrooms), Orecchiette (little ears), Ditalini (small tubes), Quadrefiore (square flowers),  and Gomiti or Chifferi (elbows). Cooking times vary for these, but be sure they are al dente (firm to ‘the teeth’) because they will continue cooking in the soup, and nobody wants mushy pasta.

I use a vegetable base to accompany the tomatoes, but feel free to use a beef or chicken base.  When I have the ends of the Parmigiano Reggiano left I put them in a ziplock bag and freeze them.  When I make the base for Pasta e Fagioli, I throw them in.  They add lots of cheesy flavor.

This is a super dish on cold winter night. Serve it with a crusty Italian pane integrale (whole grain bread) and plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano and if you have any leftovers, don't be surprised to see someone in your family with a bowl of cold Pasta e Fagioli for breakfast! 


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