Friday, October 12, 2012

Spicy Pasta and Bean Soup “Pasta e Fagioli”

“Pasta e Fagioli” is one of my husband’s favorite soups because it’s light, yet hearty and goes well with just about any sandwich. He prefers it to be more on the brothy side, whereas I prefer it to be more hearty, either way it’s delicious.  I wrote the recipe “my way” which means that every spoonful is piled with sausage, beans and pasta. 
However, if you are like my husband and prefer a brothier soup, leave out one can of beans and cut the amount of pasta in half.

What makes this soup spicy is the “hot” Italian sausage along with the addition of red and black pepper.  Even though the sausage is labeled “hot” the addition of hot sausage only gives this soup a mild heat. With that said; if you are looking for “fiery” hot, bump up the red pepper flakes and shake in some hot sauce.  That should do the trick.

I was a bit surprised when I started writing this post and realized that I eat soup almost every day.  I also realized that if I go too long without a soup “fix”, I start to think about it excessively.  I guess you could say that soup is an addiction for me, an ohhhhh sooooo satisfying addiction.

What I love about soup is that it fills you up and warms you from the inside out.  Yet it doesn't fill you up to the point of sleepiness, like other foods can.  Another thing that I like about soup is that it is extremely forgiving and versatile.  You can add or leave out just about any ingredient to customize your soup to your own personal taste.  I have come up with many new soups doing exactly that.  One of the best ways to clean out your fridge when you have a lot of odds and ends is to make a pot of soup.  Kitchen sink soup is a wonderful thing.

Tips:
  • To prevent the pasta from soaking up too much of the broth.  Cook the pasta separately and add it just before serving.  This is true for any soup that has pasta in it.
  •  If you end up with leftovers that have soaked up most of the broth, don’t fret.  All you need to do is add a can of chicken broth along with a can of water and a pinch of salt to bring it back to its soupy state.
  • I used unsalted canned tomatoes in the recipe.  If you use salted tomatoes, taste your soup before adding the salt.  You will need less than what is listed in the recipe.

Spicy Pasta and Bean Soup “Pasta e Fagioli”
1              pound                    Hot Italian sausage (bulk)
1              med                        onion, chopped small
3              cloves                    garlic, minced
1              med                        carrot, chopped small
28           oz. can                   Whole tomatoes (unsalted) with juice, crushed with hands
2              14 oz. can             chicken broth
4              cups                       water
½             tsp.                         dried oregano
1/8          tsp.                          dried thyme
¼             tsp.                         red pepper flakes
¼             tsp.                         black pepper
1              tsp.                         kosher salt
15           oz. can                   red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
15           oz. can                   white kidney beans (cannellini), drained and rinsed
1              cup                         small pasta shells
            Garnish with parmesan cheese

Place the tomatoes in a bowl and break them up by squeezing them with your hands.  Be careful they will squirt.

Heat a 4 1/2 quart stock pot over med heat.  Place about 2 Tbsp. oil in the pot; add onions, garlic and carrots and cook for about 5 min. or until onions are soft.

Add sausage and break it up as it cooks.  When the sausage is no longer pink; add tomatoes, chicken broth, water, oregano, thyme, peppers and salt.

Bring to a boil and add pasta *see tip on pasta above. Cook for 5 min. Lower heat; add beans; cook for another 5 minutes to heat the beans.  The soup is done when the pasta is cooked.

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