Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to Basics - Pasta Fagioli

After a last evening in Asia dining on Peking Duck (yes that is the unfortunate creature in the picture) carved at the table with its head right there by my elbow, some sort of crustacean I couldn't pronounce even after repeated questioning, a pickled pig's ear, a whole bass with the head and other things still attached, nary a vegetable in sight, we are home and jet lagged and ready for a simple dinner, preferably with no strange animal or fish body parts included.  So I immediately go for my tried and true pasta fagioli recipe.  (Click here to check pronunciation for pasta fagioli.)

I have made this pasta soup any number of times and it always hits the spot.  It is easy, fast and flavorful and I usually have everything I need in the refrigerator, pantry and garden.  The fresh rosemary, parsley and sage are very important!

Pasta Fagioli
Serves 4 to 6


2 cups cannellini beans
3 oz. diced pancetta
1/4 pd. any small pasta (if you use spaghetti break up in small pieces)
1 stalk celery, 1 small carrot, 1 small onion, 4 cloves garlic, all finely chopped
3 fresh sage leaves, a few sprigs of rosemary and parsley, all finely chopped
4 1/2 cups water
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
  1. Heat olive oil and saute garlic, onion, carrot, celery and pancetta for 5 minutes.
  2. Add sage and rosemary and parsley and saute 1 minute.
  3. Add beans and cook a few minutes.  Mash 1/4 of the beans with back of large fork or potato masher, add cup of water.
  4. Add pasta and stir 1 minute.
  5. Add remaining water and boil 15  minutes allowing water to reduce to thick consistency.
  6. Let rest 10 minutes and serve with Parmesan and drizzle of oil.


  1. This soup sounds delicious. I am thinking about adding a little cooked chicken for the protein-lovers in the family, although the beans should provide that as well. It is interesting to learn that some traditional Asian meals go so light on the vegetables!

  2. Good idea to add chicken!
    For our Chinese dinner we were at the Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Aberdeen Harbor, Hong Kong. This is a large, very colorful and famous place for locals and tourists to go for a festive and special evening. I imagine a normal daily fare for Chinese families includes many vegetables and it is just the special dinner out and especially when entertaining guests where the accent is mainly on the big seafood or poultry dish.

  3. My mother used to make Pasta Fagioli which we called Pasta "Fazool" in the southern Italian dialect that my relatives spoke. She used to put in little cubes of fresh Parmesan cheese which would just partially melt on the outside leaving a little kernel of warm cheese heaven inside....incredible. Thanks for reminding me of this delicious treat.

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