Sunday, April 22, 2012

Is This a Red Pasta e Fagioli?


Although I don't think I've ever met a soup I didn't like -- at least, not yet! -- my two all-time favorites are wedding soup and this soup, pasta e fagioli.  When I learned that Mr. Rosemary also loved pasta e fagioli, I was in heaven. I think part of my affection for it is that it just sounds so very authentically Italian!

He told me that it was his favorite lunch at a restaurant he often went to back when he was working in the city.  In Pittsburgh, an Italian restaurant close to his office was (and still is I guess) Costanza's.  He and his friend Rich (always at Rich's initiative, I'm sure; fast food would have kept Mr. Rosemary content)  would often walk the half-block (!) to this cozy little restaurant and always have pasta e fagioli.  I'm sure it was also Rich's suggestion that got Mr. Rosemary to try something like this.

Mr. Rosemary raved about it.  So, of course, I made it at home. The first time I made it, it was too brown and not thick enough.  I tried again.  Still, not the same.  So I'd quiz him.  It was close to an interrogation under a naked light bulb.  I'd fire away:   did it have white beans or red beans, what kind of pasta, did it have meat, any veggies.  I'd try again.  Closer, he'd say, but it wasn't quite "red enough."

Now I ask you -- is the soup in this picture red?  Although he said it was good, very good, it was just not the same.  So I'm torn:  shall I continue on my quest to duplicate his memory?  Or just be satisfied that I had made a very good soup that we both liked?  (Yes, I know the answer.)

I'm especially glad that I made this yesterday, because there's a big spring snow storm coming overnight and this will be ready for us.  And I thought maybe this was too much for spring!

Pasta e Fagioli
adapted from Rachael Ray
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 slices bacon
2 whole sprigs rosemary
1 whole sprigs of thyme
2 sage leaves
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 medium carrot, chopped fine
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
salt and pepper
2 15 ounce cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup tomato sauce
1 quart chicken stock
12 cups cooked small shells
shards of Parmesan and chopped Italian parsley to garnish

Heat olive oil in a deep soup pot over medium high heat and add bacon.  (If I  would have had pancetta, I would have used it.)  Brown the bacon and add the herbs, chopped vegetables and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.   Cook the vegetables until softened.  Add the beans, tomato sauce and stock and reduce heat to medium low.  Let simmer for about five minutes.  Remove the stems of the herbs and add the cooked pasta.  Ladle into bowls and top servings with cheese and parsley.  Makes about 6 servings.

36 comments:

  1. If it is July and 99 degrees out _ I could eat that. Slurp that. That's how good it looks to me.

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    1. Well, it's 30 (and April 23!) degrees and blowing snow, so it's definitely a soup day, red soup or not!

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  2. I'm just about to make soup too - it's so cold!!! yours looks so delicious - I love red!!
    Mary x

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    1. I'm like Claudia, though -- I could eat soup every day of the year!

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  3. The weather this years has been like a roller coaster. Hot in the winter and cold in the spring - crazy! I think your soup sounds fantastic. However rather than duplicate what he remembers loving which could partly be the red checked tablecloth and ambiance of the restaurant I'd try to come up with something totally different and better. Then of course if he decides he doesn't like that he might say, "I loved the other recipe, why did you change it.". I've heard this many times. Either either way I'm trying your recipe because I think it sounds quite comforting and delicious! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. It could have been the ambience -- all I know is that (you're right!) I should have never tried to duplicate it!

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  4. Ha-the inquisition under the naked light bulb! It is really hard to duplicate a restaurant entree and kudos to you for making such effort to get it right. The good thing about this is that you made your own lovely creation with inspiration from the restaurant that serves this type of soup. Why it is not exactly as the one the restaurant serves will never be answered, so I am glad you both enjoyed your version. It does look tasty and well worth a try!

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    1. He thought my quizzing him so much was funny, too; he doesn't realize that the devil is in the details with cooking sometimes, too. But, yes, we both liked it.

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  5. I know what you are talking about; trying to duplicate someone's else memory of the perfect meal. I think it turned out fantastic. It is very cold in my area and this soup sounds to inviting.
    Rita

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    1. It turned out swell . . . and it's still frosty here!

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  6. Looks red to me, Rosemary! I am totally with you on the all-out adoration of soup. Long live the bowl of soup!

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    1. You can find me eating soup in the dog days of August! (And not gazpacho, either!)

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  7. That looks absolutely delicious. I love your description of interrogating Mr. Rosemary about the soup!

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    1. He's a pretty good sport about these things. (And not nearly as persnickety as I sometimes make him out to be, at least not about food. He just has foibles . . . and don't we all.)

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  8. I do that sometimes too. And then I start second guessing myself and wonder if I just remember wrong! Glad you found one that you liked though!

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    1. There are a lot of different variations on the pasta e fgaiole theme. I think I ought to try them all.

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  9. I am not sure that we can duplicate what we find in a restaurant sometimes but it is fun trying!!!!

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    1. It seems (really, truly) that what we come up with is even better!

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  10. It's chilly here and I could go for a bowl of your soup right now. It's so hard to duplicate a recipe sometimes and I've done the interrogation thing myself. Maybe to the point of obsession. teehee!

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    1. It's still cold here, too. I wish we hadn't eaten it all. Tonight it's grilled chicken to warm me up. The chicken's been marinating in yogurt seasoned with cardamom and cinnamon; can't wait.

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    2. looks great :-) and love how your hubby helped you perfect the recipe sweet

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    3. His input is always appreciated :)

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  11. This looks like a gorgeous soup! Would love a big bowl of that. Need to make this soon.

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    1. It is good. It's been a bit chilly for late April here . . . I just may need to make it again.

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  12. Rosemary, I'm with you...I've never met a soup I didn't like, either. I'm such a "soup person" Your pasta e fagioli is marvelous, love the vivid colors, and amazing flavors in the soup. Very nice adaptation from Rachel Ray!

    Thank you for your kind words on my blog. So sorry to have neglected checking out your blog, lately (just a lot going on right now...but no excuses!)

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    1. There are a lot of soup lovers out there, huh? Check out the Soup Addict blog-- great soups, and more! Glad to hear you're better Elisabeth. I know you're there!

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  13. I love pasta e fagioli in any form. Growing up my mother made it almost every Friday. And it wasn't a soup and there was of course no meat - and there were tomatoes but not sauce. I still crave it - and crave any of its variations.

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    1. Your mother's version sounds crave-able!

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  14. SNOW???? I'm so sorry! But just whip up another batch of this gorgeous soup...so hearty and yummy :)

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  15. This looks like a comforting and delicious soup.

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  16. The weather is extremely hot here but I still want that bowl of delicious soup:D

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    1. You know, I wonder if this chilled would be like gazpacho!?!

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  17. Rosemary, I too have never met a homemade soup I didn't like. Thanks for introducing me to two more. Love how you approached the day of The Wedding Soup - It's a good reminder to enjoy the important things.

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    1. There are still some classic soups I've yet to try -- like mulligatawny. Must do it.

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