Soup is not only good for the soul; it’s also a nutritious and easy meal. I love making soups and one of my favorites is pasta fagiole. Like many soups, this one has countless variations and began as peasant food in Italy. While each region uses different ingredients, beans and pasta are always included. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different beans and types of pasta.
This version follows a template that I like to use for making soups. First, brown the meat. In this recipe you can use Firsthand Foods Sweet or Spicy Italian Sausage. The next important step to developing complex flavor in a soup is to use some of the drippings from the meat to sauté the aromatics (i.e. garlic, onion, celery). Next, a little acid in the form of tomatoes or wine—or both! This next step finishes the layering of flavors that is so important in an amazing homemade soup. Add in a high-quality vegetable or meat stock and the final ingredients such as dried herbs or spices. The pasta cooks in this soup making it flavorful and al dente. The beans and spinach/kale, and fresh herbs are added last to keep them from getting too soft. It’s a one-pot meal that is satisfying and easy to clean up.
- 1 lb. Firsthand Foods Sweet or Spicy Italian Sausage, diced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, quartered & thinly sliced
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 – 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
- 6 cups water
- 3 cubes low sodium vegetable bouillon
- 1 – 16 oz. can White Beans (Great Northern or Cannellini)
- 1 cup Ditilanti pasta or small elbow macaroni
- 8 oz. chopped spinach or kale
- 3 Tbs. parsley, chopped
- 1 Tbs. dried Italian herbs
- Salt & pepper to taste
- In a large stockpot, sauté the Italian sausage until thoroughly cooked and browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Drain any fat from the pan and wipe with a paper towel.
- Add olive oil to the stockpot and sauté onion and fennel over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the can of diced tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the water and the vegetable bouillon cubes. Turn heat to medium-high and stir to dissolve bouillon.
- Bring to a boil and add the pasta. Reduce heat and gently boil for 10 minutes to cook the pasta.
- Turn down heat to simmer. Add the spinach or kale, Italian herbs and salt. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the parsley and serve.