Pasta e Fagioli

pic5I feel it’s only appropriate that my first post be about the dish that was responsible for my interest in cooking.  By Junior year of college, I started to really miss good food.  The lure of dining hall cookies and $2 slices were quickly wearing off and I was craving something resembling one of my mom’s Italian classics.  After an afternoon of watching Food Network, I decided I couldn’t wait until the next time I was home to eat a delicious pasta dish and set off to the kitchen.  Well, first to the grocery store because the only things we could count of having in our college house kitchen were a box of wine, a Costco sized box of granola bars and some freeze pops (if we were lucky).  But after the grocery store I headed to kitchen with confidence that within an hour I would be deliciously satisfied.

My first attempt turned out pretty well, but it was more of a pasta than a soup.  I altered the recipe next time and only used 3/4 of the box of pasta and then it was perfect!  After perfecting this, I was hooked.  I started to get excited by the challenge of cooking something new and unusual, and look forward to impressing my friends and family with new found passion.

This dish was a great college recipe because the ingredients were affordable on my ever so minimal budget and it yields a LOT of soup, making it a few days worth of meals for a student who was always trying to stretch her means.  It has remained a staple dish in my now “grown up” kitchen.

2 cans crushed tomatoes
2 cans cannellini beans
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 box ditalini pasta
2 medium onions, finely chopped
5-6 large carrots peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon basil1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1. Heat the olive on medium in a large pot with the garlic.  Add the carrots, onions, salt and pepper and cook until the onions are soft (about five minutes).

2. Add the crushed tomatoes and the rest of the seasoning and turn to low heat.  Allow this to cook for 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add more seasoning to taste if you like.

3. When the tomatoes start to simmer, add the heavy cream and stir to incorporate.  Then add the stock and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

4. Rinse the beans and add them to the pot.

5. Add the pasta, turn the heat back up to medium and let cook until pasta is aldenti.  If you prefer, you can also cook the pasta separately and add it at the end.

I like to garnish with a bit of pecorino romano and some crusty bread!