When the stars make you drool, just like a pasta fazool, that's amore… Or so the big Dean Martin song goes. Once you try this recipe for pasta e fagioli, a hearty and delicious soup made from pasta and beans, I think you'll find some love in a bowl.
This take on the classic soup comes from by dear friend Anthony Giglio, who is a bit of a renaissance man with an encyclopedic knowledge of wine, story telling abilities of a bard, and the generosity of a saint. His recipe comes from his Neapolitan grandmothers who made this cucina povera staple when cranberry beans were fresh in the markets, or for Friday suppers that weren't during meatless Lent.
Yield: 8 servings
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
4 pork spare ribs
1 cup crushed plum tomatoes (peeled and seeded)
2 8-oz cans cranberry or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups beef broth (low sodium)
kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound tubettini or small shells pasta
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus extra for garnish
In a large soup or sauce pot over medium high heat, saute onion in olive oil until golden, then add carrot and celery, stirring to coat well. Cook 2 to 3 minutes.
Push vegetables to the edges of the pan and add pork chops, browning them gently on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir well, scraping up any stuck bits from the bottom of the pan.
Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add beans, stir well, and cook for 5 minutes. Add broth, bring to gentle simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove meat from bones, roughly chop, and return to soup.
Scoop out half the beans and pass through food mill over the pot, or pulse in blender and return to pot. Season with salt and pepper.
Before adding pasta to soup, make sure soup is liquid enough to handle the pasta (if somewhat thick, add a half cup of water, bring to boil), then add pasta and stir frequently to prevent sticking. (Soup will thicken as pasta absorbs the liquid). Remove from heat just before pasta is cooked through, al dente—about 6 minutes.
Add butter and cheese and stir well. Ladle soup in to warmed soup bowls and let rest at least five minutes; it will thicken more as it cools.
Swirl olive oil in a circle over each bowl and served with a pepper mill and bowl of cheese to pass at the table.
Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.