Comforting Goodness On The Cheap-Pasta Fazool!

It’s freezing out, of course you want soup. But it’s the holiday season- all that running around, shopping, baking, spending

Well, have I got a soup recipe for you. It’s quick. It’s cheap. But oh, does it taste like an elixir from the gods: pasta fazool.  It’s a simple Italian-American  peasant dish that turns pantry beans, tomatoes, pasta, and the leftover rinds from your cheese drawer (you weren’t gonna throw them away, now, were you?) into culinary gold. Don’t be frightened by the addition of Thai fish sauce/anchovies- they melt into the soup to add “umami” and you will not taste them. Really! A quick finish with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil adds a slight fruity aroma to the party in your mouth. Trust me, this soup will bowl you over with it’s amazing complexity from such humble ingredients. Enjoy!

Pasta Fazool

1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus some extra-virgin for a “drizzling finish”

3 oz. pancetta or 3 slices of bacon (DO NOT USE MAPLE FLAVORED BACON)

1 medium onion, diced

1 celery rib, diced

4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

1 tbsp. of fresh oregano, chopped, or 1 tsp. of dried oregano

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 1/2 Tbsp. of Thai fish sauce OR 3 anchovy fillets, minced to a paste

1 can (28 oz.) of diced tomatoes with liquid

1 Parmesean cheese rind , @ 5 in X 2 in (Romano or Asiago work well, too, whatever rind leftovers ya got!)

2 can (15 1/2 oz. each) of  cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

3 1/2 cups chicken broth

8 oz. of a small pasta shape (ditalini, tubetini, or even elbows work well)

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Parmesan cheese, grated , to pass at the table

salt

ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering (not smoking). Add bacon and cook, until beginning to brown, @3-5 minutes. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, @5-7 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and anchovies/fish sauce); cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, @ a minute. Add tomatoes and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the beans and cheese rind, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken broth, 2 1/2 cups of water, and 1 tsp. salt; bring to a boil, then add pasta. Cook until pasta is tender @8 minutes. Remove the cheese rind. Off heat, stir in 3 Tbp. of parsley, and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with remaining parsley. (Note: This soup does not hold well, as the pasta and beans suck up the broth while it sits. You can prepare up to the point that the beans and cheese rind simmer, then shut it off. Reheat to add broth and continue from there. It does, however, keep well in the fridge and is often better the next day!)

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