Pasta e Fagioli (Beans and Pasta Soup)

6 servings
  • 1 cup dried cannellini or Great Northern beans, soaked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1/2 pound smoked ham, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, including liquid
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon, dried
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pepper to taste
  • Rind from a piece of Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup dried small pasta, such as shells or elbows
  • Minced fresh basil and freshly grated Parmesan for garnish, if desired
  • Drain the beans and set aside. In a large stockpot heat the oil over moderate heat until hot. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add ham and garlic and cook stirring, 1 minute. Add tomatoes, beans, beef stock, thyme, bay leaf and pepper to taste. Add the Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Transfer 1/2 cup of the beans to a small processor or blender and puree. Return beans to pot and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring liquid to a boil and add pasta. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 6 minutes. Garnish with basil and cheese.

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