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Giada's Pasta e Fagioli: Classic Italian Comfort Food for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie Sundays)

Posted Oct 10 2010 4:15pm
I have comfort food on the brain this week and this week's soup it the epitome of a hug in a bowl, Pasta e Fagioli by Giada De Laurentiis. Hearty pasta and bean soup with smoky flavor from the pancetta Giada adds, (or in this case the thick-cut, nitrate-free bacon I used), and the heady flavor of rosemary and thyme. So thick it is more like a pasta dish then a soup. Mmm..mmm...good!


This recipe can be found in "Giada's Family Dinners" (pg 18-19) or online at Food Network here .

Giada says, "This is the classic Italian comfort-food soup, here livened up with fresh herbs. If you don't have any thyme or rosemary, feel free to substitute dried. Any small shaped pasta will do."



Pasta e Fagioli
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
(6 Servings)

4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 oz pancetta or bacon, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5-oz) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cannellini beans (my addition--see Notes/Results)
3/4 cup elbow macaroni
2 heaping Tbsp tomato paste (my addition--see Notes/Results)
freshly ground black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes, (optional)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Wrap the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and secure closed with kitchen twine.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, pancetta or bacon, and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, beans, and sachet of herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the sachet.

Puree 1 cup of the bean mixture in a blender until smooth. Before putting the puree back into the soup, add the macaroni and boil with the lid on until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Return the puree to the remaining soup in the saucepan and stir well. Season the soup with ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with some Parmesan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil just before serving.


Notes/Results: Absolutely delicious, with so much flavor and also very quick and simple to make. My only real complaint is that as the recipe is written, the soup comes out a sort of pale, slightly anemic-looking pink color, not at all pretty. Two heaping tablespoons of tomato paste made it much more visually appealing and added a little richness to the taste of the soup. Being a bean lover, I also added a can of cannellini beans to the soup for more hearty flavor. You may also want to have extra stock on hand as the soup soaks it all up. (Personally I like it that way--but if you prefer brothy over chunky, you'll need it.). Great served with a little green salad--this soup is so hearty it makes a delicious meal. I would definitely make this again.



I am doing quadruple duty with this post--in addition to Souper Sundays, I am linking it to I Heart Cooking Clubs for this next week's theme of "Served Family Style." I am early this week, but you will be able to see all the family-style dishes as they are posted by going to the site and following the links.


I am also sending it to Ruth's weekly Presto Pasta Nights event, being hosted this week by my friend (and fellow Hawaii blogger), Claudia at Honey From Rock . Claudia with be rounding up a tom of delicious pasta dishes on her blog on Friday, so be sure to check it out.

H‘nSgirlichef

And finally, classic comfort food belongs at the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop , (food from your hearth that feeds and nourishes your soul). I will be linking it to this weekly event, hosted by my pal girlichef , along with A Moderate Life, Hunger and Thirst, and Frugality and Crunchiness wth Christy.


Now lets take a look at who is in the Souper Sunday kitchen this week.

Reshmi from A Feast for the Eyes and Stomach has a bowl of comforting Fish Soup to share this week and says, "Fall is almost here and I couldn't stop thinking of warm and cozy foods, especially my favourite soups! A warm spicy soup on a breezy Autumn day is something that seems to be very essential on your dining table! Serve the Fish soup warm with a fresh bread!"



Danielle from Cooking for My Peace of Mind is here with Rich and Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup and says, "A simple soup with complex flavors. There's more to this soup than meets the eye...and plenty that'll please the pallet. If you're wanting a quick soup, that tastes wonderful....you've come to the right place. The only ingredient that might not be a staple in your pantry (errr... liquor cabinet) would be dry vermouth. You don't have to use it....you can substitute it with more chicken stock. However....highly I recommend you get yourself some because it really does add a lot to the flavor of this soup."



Amritha from AK's Vegetarian Recipe World made a healthy Horse Gram Soup (horse gram is a type of bean), and says. "When I bought horse gram 2 weeks back, I was unaware of the goodness it had. I just knew it was good for health in general terms and I bought it just for sake of a healthy addition to our regular food. But I was really amazed to know the actual nutritional facts about horse gram. The climate is changing and its getting cold. San Diego is seeing some rains for the past coupe of years. I wouldn't call it rain but this drizzle is also a great boon to us. This great climate calls for a hot soup right??"



Umm from Taste of Pearl City is back this week with a Turkish Lentil Soup and says, "Tired after working all day, or a lazy weekend, not feel like cooking then this is the recipe for you. Easy, delicious and healthy. I actually got this recipe from one of my friend here in Germany Reshmi of lecker and yummy recipes, who is been heavily influenced by lots of Turkish and Arab cuisine by all her friends. First time I had this soup for Iftar in the Turkish mosque, which tasted absolutely amazing, immediately the very next day I made this."



Tanvi of Sinfully Spicy has a vegetarian Minty Spinach & White Corn Soup to share and says, "...this is my mom’s recipe which I slightly changed to make it more filling and hearty. The white corn lends a nice bite to the smooth and silky texture due to spinach.Avoid using sweet corn coz it make the soup overly sweet!I like to keep the consistency slightly thick and the vegetables chunky so that it doesn't taste like baby food.The corn can be replaced by potatoes as a variation and for the vegan version you can replace milk with tofu puree and do away with the cream garnish."



Please join me in welcoming Melodie from Breastfeeding Moms Unite , making her first appearance at Souper Sundays this week. Melodie has a classic Potato Leek Soup to share and says, "Last weekend I went to the local Farmer’s market and picked up a bunch of seasonal organic vegetables. ...I planned my week’s menu based on the tables of veggies I saw. Daikon for a Chinese stir fry, tomatoes for a hearty tomato sauce, potatoes, leeks, kale and dill for a yummy potato leek soup. Except when I was in the middle of making my soup I smelled the fresh dill and turned up my nose at the combination. My dill has now wilted and I have guilty veggie-waster remorse. But the soup turned out great and a batch of spelt biscuits turned out better than I could have asked for."



Heather from girlichef skillfully combined a classic pairing into one dish with her Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons and says, "To this day, I cannot make tomato soup without first grilling or roasting the tomatoes and garlic. And YES, there's ALWAYS garlic. ... While you're reheating your soup...make yourself a grilled cheese sandwich. OR!!! Better yet...add a little whimsy by making mini-grilled cheese garnish for your tomato soup! You can use any type of bread and cheese you desire. I tend to crave the American "cheese" on white bread variety that I grew up with, for this particular application."



Zibi from Fresh Slowcooking used her crock pot for some luscious Creamy Cheesy Slow Cooker Onion Soup and says, "Browning the onions before cooking them in your slow cooker gives this onion soup an almost smokey, roasted flavour that is guaranteed to warm you up. The addition of grated potatoes adds to the creamy, melt in your mouth texture. An easy alternative to French onion soup.In Canada ,this Monday is Thanksgiving. A great way to enjoy leftover turkey is to stir some into this onion soup, making it hearty and comforting."



Ahkeela from Torviewtoronto made a hearty, creamy and comforting Vegetable Noodles Soup this week, full of all kinds of vegetables, thin noodles, spices and cream. About her soup, Ahkeela says, "Easy to make with seasonal vegetables and it is a filling soup."



Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness is back again this week with a soul-filling Tomato Bisque and says, "A most amazing soup, & a nice way to welcome the cooler (or so I've been told) weather. To save myself a step & also keep from making two batches, one vegetarian & one omnivore, I skipped the 'cooking bacon' stage. Instead, I added olive oil for extra fat & sprinkled in a bit of smoked salt. I also added a bit more at the end. In addition, a generous handful of grated cheese (combination Parmesan & smoked Gouda) was stirred in before serving. The result was a rich, smoky & wonderful soup. Requested by the second grader for his school lunch. Twice."



Roz from La Bella Vita has a bright and filling Broccoli, Dried Cranberry and Smokey Bacon Salad and says, "Nothing gourmet or complicated about this recipe, just easy and filled with lots of flavor. Oh yea, there's a lot of broccoli in this deal, so it's a little bit healthy for us too. If you want it to be more healthy for you, then eliminate/reduce the mayonnaise. ... I used the thickest-sliced, meatiest, smokiest bacon I could find . . . none of this mamsy-pamsy thin, complete-white-fat-stuff that pretends to be bacon allowed! Plus I used a full pound of this thick bacon, instead of 6 oz. of skinny, fatty bacon. I also replaced ordinary raisins with more flavorful and colorful dried cranberries."



Janet from The Taste Space has two salads to show this week. About the first, this colorful Japanese Tomato Tofu Caprese Salad , she says, "I would feel guilty using my heirloom cherry tomatoes in anything but a salad and I knew exactly what I wanted to make with them first: Momofuku‘s Tomato Tofu Caprese Salad (spotted via Belm Blog). This is fusion cuisine at its best, where the classic Italian flavours from the caprese salad (tomato, mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar) are infused with Japanese flair."


Her next salad, this Roasted Tomato and Lentil Salad with Caramelized Sherry Vinaigrette , about she says, "Adapted from A Crafty Lass, this is a delicious lentil salad with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes and a caramelized sherry vinaigrette. For texture, raisins add some chewiness and toasted almonds add crunch. The basil ties everything together nicely. It is a sweet salad, so be gentle with the dressing. I halved the original recipe and then halved the dressing recipe again. Add to taste."



An excellent bunch of soups and salads this week! Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

***Souper Sunday Birthday Announcement***

Souper Sunday is turning 2 next week, Can you believe it has been two full years of weekly soups?! And of course sandwiches and salads joined the party about 6 months later. Next week we will be celebrating with a recap of my favorite soups I made over the past year and hopefully all of you, my Souper Sunday friends will join in next week too, bring a soup, salad or sammie for one "souper" round-up!

Have a great week!
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