A pot of soup
Wow what a winter- it has struck us brutally this year. With the cruelness of this cold weather and with everything covered with snow there has been lots of staying at home. The blanket, the battle of wine, hot drinks and this heart- warming soup “pasta e fagioli” are apparently our best friends these days. Of course with the company of a good movie or a good book if you have the time; then there come the family and my little one wanting attention.
“Oh well, what more can I say!” Soup is good. By far one of the most satisfying comfort foods you can serve to a hungry and nostalgic family is this pasta fagioli, a great taste combo for a mixed Dominican and Italian family like ours.
Wikipedia defines pasta e fagioli as a dish which started out as a peasant dish “poor man’s food”-composed of inexpensive ingredients; beans and pasta seasoned with vegetable. The initial criterion seems to imply that the dish has evolved over time, but has it? What do you think? It seems to me that not much has changed except for the fact that this soup is good, stimulating and very pleasant for anyone who eats it.
Now I am going to add to this soup some of my left over meatballs. As a matter of fact every time I make meatballs I purposely make an extra batch with the idea in mind of making this soup later. It can be made meatless to return back to the original recipe for a vegetarian dish.
I am using chicken stock, but then again this can also be substituted with vegetable stock or water. So give this pasta e fagioli your own interpretation. We have the fundamentals of the soup now, so go ahead and make it your own, add seasonal vegetables or whatever fresh herbs you have available. I ended up adding half of a bitter orange (hard to get here in NYC) that my sister brought me from Corona (a Dominican neighborhood in Queens). What else to say about the soup? Oh yes it can be served either for lunch or dinner. Finish it with fresh spinach, scallion or basil, minced parsley topped with fresh grated parmesan or pecorino-romano cheese. I almost forgot – don’t forget a little bit of heat with pepper flakes, ground black pepper, extra olive oil and some bread if your wish. Now my son Christopher interrupts – – He wants to go home to Tia Ana (Aunt Ana) who lives in the Dominican Republic, “yes, mama caliente” (hot), “agua salada” (salty water as referring as the beach) etc. It is definitely the place to be, out of this cold or at home eating hot soup, just being cozy and lazy.
Pasta e fagioli soup
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 lager onions chopped
3 medium carrots chopped
2 celery stems chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon dry oregano
2 cup cooked meatballs (or sausages)
½ cup wine-red or white
28 oz. diced tomatoes (fresh, blanch-peeled) or can)
2 cups cannellini beans (I boiled my own, but you can use a 16 oz. can, rinsed and drained)
Chicken stock (water or veg stock)
Bouquet garni: wrap all these in a piece of cheesecloth and tied together with a kitchen twine or just tied all the herbs together.
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3-4 large sprig fresh oregano
1 bay leaf
3 cups of any short pasta such as ditalini (cooked al dente)
Salt and fresh grounded black pepper
Bitter orange (apple cider vinegar)
Spinach, scallions or basil, minced parsley, freshly ground black pepper, grated parmesan, extra-virgin olive oil and red pepper flakes (optional).
Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion sauté until the onions are tender for about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, garlic and dry oregano; keep sautéing in a medium heat for about 5 more minutes. Add the meatballs, wine and deglaze. Incorporate the dice tomatoes, beans and cook for a few minutes. Add the stock or water and bouquet garni-or tied herbs. Bring to a boil over high or medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer the soup until the vegetables are tender. Add the cooked pasta and let it cook for a few minutes. Season it with the salt, black pepper and the bitter orange or vinegar. Discard the sachet and serve hot with any of some of the many or all of the garnishing.
Pasta e fagioli: Italian for pasta and beans.