From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...It rained all day today. Winter rain is not unusual here, but storms in Oregon's Willamette Valley are rarely the torrential downpours most imagine them to be. It's true we get lots of rain, but it's rarely an all-day affair and our rains are usually marked by sun breaks that make them far more bearable. It was raining this morning and I decided to read, promising myself that I'd get to work once the sun broke through. Trouble is it didn't. I continued to read, and before I knew it dinner time was beckoning and I had nothing set to go. I have a series of recipes for pantry meals that I keep on hand for occasions just like this. I decided to go with this super simple soup because I had scraps of pancetta in the fridge and I thought this would be a great way to use them up. I must also tell you that this recipe is truly child's play, and, if you can operate a can opener, you can have this flavorful and filling soup on the table in about 30 minutes without breaking a sweat. I have nothing against easy meals as long as they are tasty. If you have salad fixings, this soup is substantial enough for a winter meal and I doubt there will be any complaints from those who gather at your table. This is a "warm your innards" soup and I know your family will enjoy this version of an old Italian favorite. So, why not grab your can opener and get started on this version of Pasta e Fagioli. Here is how it's made.
Pasta e Fagioli...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of J. Kenji Lopez via Serious Eats
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes packed in juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon butter
3 ounces pancetta or bacon, finely chopped (optional)
1 medium onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 quart homemade or low-sodium canned chicken broth
2 (15 ounce) cans dark red kidney beans
2 bay leaves
1 cup small pasta such as shells, ditalini, or elbows
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1) Pour tomatoes and their juice into a medium bowl and using hands, squeeze each tomato through your fingers to break it up into small pieces. Set aside.
2) Heat olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until butter is melted. If using pancetta, add to pan and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add onion, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant and softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juice, chicken broth, kidney beans, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to a bare simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, adding pasta to soup in last 5 to 10 minutes or until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaves, stir in parsley and serve, drizzling each serving with extra-virgin olive oil at the table. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
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