I first got turned on to the Italian peasant soup pasta e fagioli when I took a cooking class on soups at the John Folse Culinary Institute several years ago. I was amazed at how flavorful a soup made of little more than beans and pasta could be. Now I really like to make it because it’s a favorite among my kids, and I can sometimes buy fresh and shelled red beans from Pontchatoula farmer Eric Morrow at the Red Stick Farmers Market. We also have an old school pasta shop here in Baton Rouge, D’Agostino’s, that sells handmade dried pastas. Their birdseye, shown below, is perfect for this soup.
Here’s my pasta e fagioli recipe, referenced in earlier post on fall soups inspired by farmers market ingredients. This version is lighter than many because it uses chicken stock rather than beef, and diced fresh tomatoes rather than tomato paste.
Farmers Market Pasta e Fagioli
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ cups diced onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced carrots
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
6-8 cups chicken stock
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups fresh red beans, or 1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1 cup small pasta, such as birdseye (shown below)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley or basil and Parmesan cheese for garnish
Heat oil to medium high heat in a Dutch oven. Sauté onions, celery and carrots until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 6 cups chicken stock, thyme and oregano and bring to boil. Lower heat. Add tomatoes and red beans and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add chicken and pasta, and simmer for another five minutes. Taste, and add salt and pepper to taste. This soup is normally served thick, but add more stock if you prefer it more brothy. Top with fresh herbs and cheese and serve.