Pasta e Fagioli
Last weekend, Howard read about winter farmers’ markets in the area. For six weeks, from January 17 through February 27, on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Russell’s Garden Center in Wayland is hosting a Winter Farmers’ Market. Yesterday, we went to check it out. It was fabulous. There were several vendors offering fresh vegetables. Given that it is January, that means salad greens, bitter greens, and stored root vegetables. There were other vendors selling cheese, meat, eggs, honey, bread and other local products like root beer, granola, and preserves. There were at least 15 different vendors. They were scattered throughout the greenhouses, so it was hard to count. The place was crowded with enthusiastic customers. It was exciting to discover this winter shopping option. We’ll be back!
With the refrigerator was empty of leftovers, so I decided to make a hearty soup for lunches during the upcoming week. I still had some not-so-good ribs from earlier in the week, so, initially, I planned to make a soup that would invite the addition of the leftover rib meat. I settled on a pasta e fagioli, where the meat would stand in for the chicken and ham. In the end, we finished the ribs for lunch yesterday, so I ended up with a vegetarian soup instead.
Pasta e Fagioli (Bean and Pasta Soup)
Serves 8 – 10
(Adapted from Italian Classics in One Pot by Anna Teresa Callen)
1 lb dried beans (an assortment of red and white beans)
3 qts. water
¾ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried sage
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp black pepper
1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juice reserved
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
¾ cup pastina (small soup pasta)
Generous handful of Italian parsley, chopped
The beans need to be soaked before starting the soup. You have two choices:
- Soak the beans overnight (at least 8 hours). I prefer to use boiling, rather than room temperature, water for soaking.
- Place the beans in a large pot. Cover with water by a few inches. Bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat down, and simmer for 1 hour. The beans will not be cooked, they will be “quick-soaked”.
Drain and rinse the soaked beans.
Place the soaked beans in a large soup pot. Add 3 quarts of water, thyme, sage, bay leaves, and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the beans are softened, but not completely tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Add the tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Simmer until the beans are tender, another 30 to 45 minutes.
Turn up the heat to medium, add the pasta, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.
Discard the bay leaves, and stir in the parsley.