One thing I remember when I was little was what a treat it was to be invited to lunch or dinner at one of my friend’s house. Bless my dad for being the main cook in our family, but you can only eat so much Chinese food before you want something new. And getting an invite to my friend’s house was like winning the lottery. My friend’s mother made the best Italian dishes. When you walked into their house there was always the aroma of something cooking on the stove or baking in the oven. It was like walking into a tomato, basil and garlic cloud of yumminess. On a few occasions I was treated to a delicious bowl of pasta e fagioli. (Pasta and bean soup.) Through the years I have added or changed out some of the ingredients that my friend’s mother used. Adding ground beef being the biggest change. (Sorry , Mrs. P.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 carrots)
- 1 cup diced celery (about 2 stalks)
- 1 cup diced onion (about 1 small or half a large onion)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 lb ground beef (if you are going meatless add 2 cups diced escarole or Swiss chard)
- 1 28 oz can Cento San Marzano peeled tomatoes (or 1 jar spaghetti sauce and 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes)
- 32 oz beef stock (you can substitute vegetable stock if you are going meatless)
- 1 15 oz can red kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1 15 oz can cannelini beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning (Basil, Oregano and Thyme mix)
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 oz dry ditalini noodles (or any small pasta of your choice)
- Shaved parmesan cheese and basil for garnish (optional)
- In a heavy stock pot add olive oil on high heat. When oil ripples, add diced carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes.
- Add ground beef. Mince ground beef until browned. Once ground beef is browned, discard fat from pot.
- If using San Marzano tomatoes, mash-up with potato masher or your fingers. Add tomatoes to vegetables and beef.
- Add beef (or vegetable) stock, both types of beans, Italian seasoning and pepper. Stir and mix well.
- Lower heat to simmer for 45 minutes.
- If you have enough hungry eaters to finish the entire pot of soup, add ditalini noodles during last 10 minutes of simmer. Otherwise, cook ditalini noodles in separate pot and serve into individual bowls as needed.
- Serve soup topped with shaved parmesan cheese and basil. (optional)
Makes 6-8 servings.