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Recipe: Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli

Originally this hearty Italian peasant dish was meatless--to take advantage of inexpensive ingredients like beans and pasta. Our version is made the traditional way, with dried beans and plenty of rosemary and garlic. Feel free to add more vegetables, such as fennel, celery root, cauliflower, or fresh green beans, if you like. Top your masterpiece with a drizzle of good olive oil and some grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Ingredients

Serves
6-8
  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 10 cups water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves (or 1  tablespoon dried rosemary)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups diced sweet onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced peeled carrots
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes (or 4 fresh plum tomatoes, diced)
  • 2 1/4 ounces Veggie-Stock Gold® dissolved in 6 cups hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus additional as needed
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, plus additional as needed
  • 12 ounces baby spinach
  • 1/2 pound (1 1/2 cups) ditalini or other small pasta, cooked according to package directions

Methods/steps

  1. Place the beans in a large stockpot. Add water to cover the beans, allowing an extra 2 inches of water above them. Cover the pot with the lid tilted to vent. Soak the beans 8 hours to overnight.
  2. When you're ready to cook the beans, drain them, discarding the soaking water. Add the beans and 10 cups fresh water to a medium stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat and skim as much foam as possible from the surface. Add the bay leaves and rosemary and reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pot with the lid tilted to vent the steam. Cook the beans for 1 hour without stirring.
  3. While the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic, and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, dissolved Veggie-Stock Gold®, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then set the vegetable/stock mixture aside off the heat.
  5. After the hour of cooking time, check the beans for tenderness.  They should be completely tender (if they're not tender, cover the pot completely and cook an additional 15 minutes, or as needed). Discard the bay leaves.
  6. Add beans and their cooking liquid to the stockpot with vegetable/stock mixture and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low.   Cover the pot with the lid tilted to vent the steam.  Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Stir in the spinach 10 minutes before serving. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if necessary.
  8. To serve, portion the pasta into soup bowls and ladle the hot soup over the pasta.

Additional Tips

  • If you want to add other vegetables, add them when you add the cooked beans and their liquid to the vegetable/stock mixture at step 6.  Cook until the vegetables are tender.
  • You may substitute 4 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) of Great Northern beans or cannellini beans for the dried beans. Rinse rinse and drain the canned beans, and add them at step 6. Add more stock or water as needed to reach the conisistency you want.
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Classic French Stocks and Sauces