I am participating in the first "Foodie Friday" event, hosted by Gollum on her beautiful blog, Designs By Gollum, today. Be sure to visit Gollum's blog and follow her Mr. Linky links to see all the other wonderful Foodie Friday blog posts for today's event!
"Pasta e Fagioli" or "Pasta and Beans" is a favorite comfort soup found in many homes of Italian ethnicity. Just as there many regions and towns in Italy, there are a tremendous number of local variations for this soup's recipe, and all are good! There is nothing like a bowl of hearty soup to warm you on a cold Winter's day!
In my version of pasta e fagioli soup I add mini ground turkey meatballs and one of my favorite soup vegetables: escarole.
Ground beef, meatballs or diced pancetta can be substituted for the turkey meatballs if so desired, and spinach can be substituted for the escarole, or both can be left out entirely. I also used red kidney beans in my recipe, but more often you'll see white cannelini beans used. You can also use one can of each.
Be creative! There is no right or wrong as long as your soup tastes good!
First, prepare your mini turkey meatballs using your favorite recipe and set aside. I used one pound of ground turkey.
Next, in a large stock pot, saute a diced onion, two stalks of diced celery, two carrots diced, and one diced sweet red pepper in a few tablespoons of olive oil until they are soft. Add two large diced cloves of garlic.
Pour in one 32 ounce container of prepared chicken broth and one 28 ounce can of chopped plum tomatoes, stir well.
Add a bay leaf, some springs of rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon dried sage, 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, one teaspoon dried basil, crumbled, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Have another pot started full of water to boil to cook the pasta. A 12 0r 16 ounce small pasta such as small shells, elbow macaroni, ditalini, etc., is best. When pasta is cooked, drain and hold to the side.
Simmer soup on medium heat until all comes to a low boil. Add the mini meatballs and continue to simmer at a low boil, stirring occasionally.
When the meatballs are firm, and almost cooked through, add two 15.5 ounce cans of drained and rinsed red kidney beans. Stir well and continue to simmer.
Turn up heat and add two medium bunches of rinsed and dried chopped escarole, a little at a time, continually stirring until all is added. It will wilt down quickly. Once wilted turn down heat again to a low boiling simmer.
Add the small pasta cooked "al dente," which means slightly hard to the tooth when it is tasted, as it will absorb some more flavor when added to the soup and become softer. Stir well.
Remove bay leaf, adjust seasonings to your taste, and serve!
It's wonderful eaten with a sprinkle of freshly ground Parmesan or Romano cheese on top. Serve with a nice crusty loaf of bread and it is a complete satisfying and healthy meal.