In Italy white Pasta e Fagioli is as popular as the red; just don't add the tomatoes. It's great!
- 2-3 15 OZ. cans of cannellini (white kidney) beans
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
- I large onion, chopped
- A piece of prosciutto skin (3 x 3 x 1/4 inch) or 2 slices of salt pork cut a 1/4 inch thick
- An end piece of Regianno Parmeggiano skin (3 x 3 x 1/4 inch)
- *This should be available in any Italian market and probably for free
- 1 slice of prosciutto sliced 1/4 inch thick. Dice in 1/4 inch pieces or 1/2 pound of some crumbled sausage meat.
- The top 3-4 inches of a bunch of celery (including leaves) chopped
- 1 can (15 oz) of diced tomatoes, chop slightly and sauté entire contents in a little oil. Cook at med. heat for 10 min. Add S&P, a little garlic and basil; basically make a small sauce. Add spices when the tomatoes are just about cooked, with the exception of maybe S&P. If added too early, they will cook out and you will loose the fresh flavor. Bottled sauce may be substituted but don't tell anyone.
- 3-4 cups chicken stock / broth
- 1 doz. fresh basil leaves & 1 Doz. springs of parsley.
- 2 large bay leaves
- hot red pepper seeds (optional at serving)
- A handful of freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 pound pasta. Any type of small pasta or any mixture will do. My mother would use a mixture of anything she had leftover or just break up some spaghetti or linguini. Cook the pasta until very al dente, strain and cool down. DO NOT over cook! One quick shot under cold to remove some of the starch and to retard any further cooking will be fine.
In a fairly heavy pan, large enough to comfortably fit everything but the pasta, add the olive oil and heat at med. When hot add meat, onions and celery and sauté until celery is tender or the onion is translucent. Add bay leaves, juice from the beans and about 1/4 of a can of beans. Mash the beans in the bottom of the pan, stir well and continue to cook for a few minuets more. Add stock, 1 spoon of garlic, Parmeggiano skin and remainder of beans and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minuets. Add parsley, basil, S&P to taste, another spoon of garlic and simmer for another 5 minuets or so. Toss prosciutto skin out along with the bay leaves if you can find them. Or, remove the salt pork, chop it finely and throw it back in. Only mix enough bean base and pasta for what you plan to consume at one sitting. Save the balance separated so the pasta does not turn to mush. The amount of pasta you add is based on how much you like pasta.
What about the tomatoes? In the old country they serve pasta e fagioli red or white; I like the white better. However, if you want red, just add a few tablespoons of the tomatoes you cooked to your dish and like magic, "RED". Serve in bowls with Italian bread, Romano or Parmesan cheese and add some crushed hot red pepper if desirable for that little "ZAP".
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Source: THE SOUTH SIDE SOCIAL CLUB COOKBOOK
Submitted By: VINCENZO PAOLINO
ZUPPA DELL PASTA E FAGIOLI PASTA & BEAN SOUP