Zuppe di Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Bean Soup)
This recipe has evolved from a simpler one that The CEO and I had at an Italian restaurant called Norberto’s back in the dark ages when we were dating. That soup was basically chicken broth with some minced garlic, tomatoes, white beans and small pasta shapes, and it was delicious. However, I like soup with, you know, chunks of stuff in it, and so when I recreated it for family eating, I added some ingredients that seemed to want to go into the soup and join the hearty-eating party… This is terrific for using up leftover chicken and pasta, and it’s relatively quick. I have made and let it simmer only about 35 minutes, and it’s still good, though I prefer to let it cook a little longer.
- 1 quart chicken broth (or equivalent amount of water, with chicken bouillon to make 4 cups; if you’re using stock, thin it down a little with water or it will be a tad too rich)
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. oil
- 1 12-ounce can of diced tomatoes
- one 12-ounce can of cannellini or White Northern beans
- ¾ to 1 cup diced cooked chicken
- 1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
- 1 cup cooked bite-size pasta (my favorite is fusilli or radiatori, but other pasta shapes that work well include elbow macaroni, orechiette, and rotini; I’ve also used cheese-filled tortellini)
- ½ cup cut leaf spinach (I’ve used frozen, cooked, and fresh and they all work fine)
Sixty to ninety minutes before you’d like to eat the soup, start to heat broth over medium-high heat in a large soup pot. Saute the minced garlic in oil in a small pan. When it’s light brown and fragrant, add the garlic, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning to the broth. Let the broth come to a boil, then turn it down to medium-low and let it simmer for about half an hour to an hour. Add beans, cooked chicken, cooked pasta and spinach, stir, and let cook on medium-low for another half an hour. Top bowls with grated Parmesan cheese; serve with salad and garlic bread for simple-but-yummy dinner.
This makes enough to feed a family of five, with a couple of bowlfuls left for somebody’s lunch.