09 December 2013

Eats: pasta fagioli soup

I do understand that most of the fancy professional bloggers probably avoid opening their posts with a discussion of the weather. I really do. But 1) I am not a professional blogger, so I do what I want, and 2) SNOW. SNOW SNOW SNOW.

I’m sorry, it’s hard to think or do anything over all this SNOW.

It’s not that it’s particularly voluminous, but it’s just so early in the year that I’m quite frustrated with it. At least I’m not alone in this sudden and furious bout of winter weather – you are cold too, yes? Perhaps covered in ice?

The only good thing about a super-cold, snowy December is that soup is eighty billion times more comforting. And it helps if the soup is knock-your-socks-off delicious, like the pasta fagioli soup from Shutterbean that I just tried.

(Actually, maybe avoid actually knocking your socks off. It’s too cold for sockless feet.)

Let’s start with bacon. Tracy uses pancetta, but I couldn’t find anything except thin-sliced at my Italian-neighborhood grocery. So I subbed in three strips of thick-cut bacon instead, and “minced” it as best I could.

I cooked it in my Le Creuset over medium heat until cooked partway, but not crisp (about five minutes). Then I added some dried onion and minced garlic (of course I failed to measure it) and cooked for another three minutes over medium heat.

The smell is, of course, incredible. Like, the second the onions and garlic hit my nose with the bacon smell already filling my kitchen, my mouth watered.

Watch closely though! The garlic will burn in a hot second. Keep an eye on it! That’s why I cooked the bacon for a few minutes before adding the garlic; I wanted the bacon to have a chance to crisp before the garlic got burnt.

Just before adding the tomatoes, take the pot off the heat and add a splash of red wine to deglaze the pan. Gah, I love deglazing pans. All those delicious bits to be incorporated!

Then I added a can of petite diced tomatoes (regular diced would be fine, too), a teaspoon of dried ground sage (because it’s December and I live in the Midwest = no fresh herbs), a shake of red pepper flakes, and a bit of salt. Then I covered and simmered it for fifteen to twenty minutes, until the tomatoes cooked down.

Once tomatoes looked mushy, I added four cups of chicken broth and a can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans. WELL-RINSED. Cannellini beans don’t joke around when it comes to gross canned bean sludge. Make sure you get it all! You don’t want bean sludge in your soup!

Mmmm, those little droplets of bacon grease. Embrace them!

You might have to crank the heat up to get it back to simmering. Once it’s bubbling a bit, cover again and let it simmer for twenty minutes or so.

Finally, dump in a cup of medium-sized pasta shells. (Don’t worry about the random five-ish cups left in the box. You can totally make miracle mac & cheese with that. Personal experience!) Let it simmer for another twenty minutes and you’re dunzo!

FYI, the pasta shells will continue to soak up the broth even after you take it off the heat. So if it seems like it could benefit from more pasta, just you wait. But if you like it brothy, you’d better eat it quickly! This is what that pot looked like later in the day, in gross post-sunset lighting:

I swear I didn’t drain off all the broth. It got all sucked up by the noodles!

It may not look like much, but I promise, this is amazing. It’s my new soup obsession! Whether you eat it immediately or the next day, be sure to top it with some parmesan and parsley.

I may or may not have licked the bowl clean. May have.

Did. I totally did.

And then I had a second bowl later when Mr. P got home. NO JUDGEMENT.

Admittedly, with the three lengthy simmers, this is not the quickest dinner you could make. But hey, you’re stuck at home in wintry weather. Of course you can tend to a soup over the course of an hour!

And this soup is worth it. I’m already regretting not making a double batch (and I’m the only one eating it!). I even told Mr. P I want company to visit just so I can make them this soup. This is serious friend-winning soup, people. Bake some focaccia to serve with it and you’ll make friends for life. Or at the very least, you’ll have your ideal comfort food for winter weather. Make it as soon as you can navigate the snowy roads to the grocery! And enjoy!

Finally, this week’s I-only-bought-what-I-could-carry-home-by-myself-on-icy-sidewalks-from-the-neighborhood-grocery-because-I-refused-to-drive-on-snowy-roads meal plan:

Sunday: Neighborhood progressive dinner holiday party! There was an ice sculpture involved. It was swank.

Monday: Dijon-braised pork (with actual Dijon this time, not expired spicy mustard) with roasted broccoli and focaccia

Tuesday: Pasta carbonara with green peas and salad

Wednesday: Sausage pizza and salad

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Taco night

Saturday: Another soup. I cannot get enough soup.

Happy wintry Monday, dear readers! Stay warm!


Tina said...

I'm going to make this asap - and then hibernate. ;-)

Tina said...

Made it tonight as I had everything on hand except shell macaroni - I substituted elbow and it worked just fine. Didn't lick my bowl, but did sop up all the broth with my cheesy garlic bread stick. Ron did, too. And since Ron can't seem to remember "pasta fagioli", we're just going to call it Sarah Soup. :-)