Pasta e Fagioli (Traditional Italian Macaroni Soup)

by Don Birnbohm 05/10/2020

Image by Valter Cirillo from Pixabay

In Italy, it's long been a cherished tradition to harvest beans, place the pods over the ground under the autumn sun, then store the sun-dried beans for wintertime. On brisk days, beans would be cooked up with a medley of vegetables and pasta. When the cook tossed dry pasta tossed into the stew, the starch from the beans and pasta would lend themselves to a creamy mix, thickening to form a robust and aromatic winter meal.

Keep the history alive! Make it tonight, or prepare it a few days in advance and let it marinate. Either way, this rustic, casserole-style soup will not disappoint. Here's how to do it like the Italian cooks do.

Step 1: Pronounce It Authentically 

It has to be said. Pasta fazool, as folks say in the northeastern U.S., comes from pasta e fasule — the Neapolitan term. It got a little exaggerated when Dean Martin famously sang about those stars that make you drool Joost like-a pasta fazool. That’s amore!

But if the dish is named pasta e fagioli, it's pronounced PAH-stah eh fah-JOL-eh. The first “i” in fagioli blends into the o that comes after it.

The exact translation? Pasta and beans.

Step 2: Gather the Ingredients

Here's what to lay out on your counter:

  • 1 ½ cup small pasta shells 
  • 2 cups dried Cannellini beans, cooked (or 1 can, with the liquid)
  • 2 Tbsp. cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large, finely chopped onion of your choice
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, with the strings pulled out and discarded
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes or fresh cherry tomatoes
  • ½ tsp. salt and pepper, mixed
  • 1 Tbsp each dried basil and oregano 
  • 1 quart of hot water
  • Step 3. Prepare a Red Sauce

    Make a simple Italian sauce by blending your tomatoes and olive oil, the chopped onion, basil and oregano, salt and pepper.

    Step 4. Make and Cook the Soup

    Heat the olive oil over medium hear in large, nonstick pan. Chop the celery and add it, as well as your chopped garlic clove. When they are about to brown, stir in the red sauce.

    Simmer for 10 minutes.

    Add the quart of hot water.

    Blend the beans in.

    Bring the mix to a boil, and cook for another 10 minutes. 

    Step 5. Bring the Pasta Into the Mix

    Finally, add the dry pasta shells and boil the complete soup, stirring, for a final ten minutes, or until the pasta is just becoming tender. Continual stirring will keep your shells separated.

    Step 6. Serve and Enjoy

    Serve immediately, while it's hot.

    You might wish to garnish your Pasta e Fagioli with fresh Italian parsley, and serve with crusty bread and extra virgin olive oil. Two people can enjoy this meal, and have enough left over to marinate in the fridge and enjoy again the next day. That's amore!

    About the Author
    Author

    Don Birnbohm

    Don Birnbohm, your number one source for Medford Real Estate, and surrounding towns.