Pasta Fagioli Soup with Sage and Bacon
Happy Delicious New Year!
For the longest time I wished I could make a great Pasta Fagioli (Pasta with Beans) soup like I’ve had at trattoria-style Italian restaurants.
One Sunday, I took special advantage of the fat still in my cast iron skillet from my breakfast bacon, added some diced tomato to it, and intuited the rest of this recipe so that by the time I tasted it, to me it seemed like it came from a really good Italian restaurant. I’m humble, I know ;).
By now I had to replicate what I did and write it all down so, once again, this is my best rendition of how I make this soup. Feel free to play around with proportions, especially the seasoning. The bacon and Parmigiana will add saltiness, and I gently warn not to add too much salt because then it will taste like it came from not-such-a-good restaurant. I’m a little snobby, I know ;).
The fresh sage and cracked pepper are keepers. I hope you love this as much as I do, and that it will become a winter staple for you and those you love!
1-2 cups small-cut pasta (i.e., shells, short macaroni), cooked according to package directions, tossed lightly with olive oil, set aside, kept warm
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 ripe Roma tomatos, cut in cubes
3 strips bacon, cut in half
Preheat oven to 400F.
Place tomato pieces in oven-proof skillet or shallow dish, and drizzle with oil. Place bacon slices on top of tomatoes. Roast in oven for 22 minutes; prepare soffrito while this cooks.
Soffrito (see note at end of recipe)
2 celery stalks, diced
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil (more if needed)
2 cans white navy beans (reserve ½ cup beans, set aside)
8-10 fresh sage leaves
4 cups chicken stock or broth
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Freshly grated Parmiagiano cheese, chopped sage leaves, freshly ground pepper
In medium-large stockpot, place all soffrito ingredients with oil at once. Over medium-low flame, stir occasionally and cook for about 20 minutes, until mixture is very soft. If mixture seems too dry, add more oil, 1 TBS at a time.
Once soffrito is cooked, increase heat to medium and add beans (with liquid) and sage leaves and mix gently. Add all contents from the pan of bacon and tomato mixture as well, stir well and heat through thoroughly.
Add broth to mixture and season with a little salt and pepper; you may add more once soup is pureed.
Reduce heat to very low, cover pot loosely, and allow soup contents to simmer for about 44 minutes or up to one hour. Allow to cool for about 11-22 minutes.
In batches, transfer soup contents to blender and puree until smooth and creamy. Over medium-low heat, return pureed soup to stockpot, add reserved beans and pasta. Stir gently and heat through.
Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper as needed. Careful about adding salt, as if you serve it with Parmigiana you will need less!
To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with cheese, chopped sage, and cracked pepper. Buon appetito!
Yields 6-8 servings.
Soffrito is Italian for “I suffered” … this method of cooking was not designed to make anyone suffer 😉 although the mixture itself may feel that way. It is a classic start to many Italian recipes, to give great flavor. A Tuscan Chef Instructor that I studied with concurs that all great sauces begin with soffrito and, you can also make soffrito and “add it to other recipes that don’t have any flavor” … I didn’t make that up, I’m just reporting it to you ☺.