The following “Chew This!” column originally appeared in “The Courier-Times” and / or “The Shelbyville News”. Check their websites for further information and dates.
A Secret and Delicious Shortcut Soup…
Pasta Fagioli basically means “pasta and beans” and is an extremely popular Italian soup. Growing up, I never really cared for any type of soup to be quite honest with you but over the years of my taste buds developing and changing, I have really grown quite fond of soup. Before my Grandma Barbra passed away, she taught me her famous potato soup recipe and we had many discussions together on what my family calls “stone soup”, which is basically like a vegetable soup. My Grandpa Max made the best beef stew you could ever hope to taste, and my Grandma Deloris was known for her tomato soup, served hot but with ice cubes too. Soups can evoke all kinds of memories in people and it seems for every memory, there is a different take on some type of classic soup recipe. White chicken chili for some, hearty beef chili for others, while a friend of mine prefers her Grandma’s turkey and dumpling chili. I have a few recipes on my website and in my 2 cookbooks for soups but the one I am sharing here today may very well be my all time favorite! It is so simple and delicious you will not believe it!
When I made this soup, people knew for sure I had spent all day on it. Assuming I had let it simmer for hours and added all of these secret ingredients and spices, but no! It literally takes less than 20 minutes to throw together and is best served hot but can also be served warm or even chilled if you prefer your soups that way! The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the soup to come to a low boil. You can experiment and add your favorite type of pasta sauce to this recipe but the sauce I use already contains the basil and garlic, therefore eliminating having to add either ingredient later on in the recipe! You could also experiment with the type of beans you use but I really find the white kidney beans to pair the best with the other flavors. The reserved pasta water is important here because it really brings everything together. If you want a thicker soup, add less water. If you want a thinner soup, add more water! It is so easy!
Leftovers of this soup can be kept covered and chilled in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
1 jar “Ragu Chunky” pasta sauce with tomato, basil and garlic
2 cans (19 oz each) white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed but not drained
16 oz ditalini pasta, cooked and drained
4 cups reserved pasta water
4 cups water
To prepare the spinach: microwave the frozen spinach in a microwave safe container for four minutes. Using a fork, cut up and separate. Do not drain the spinach.
To prepare the pasta: cook in a large amount of salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil added. Cook according to package directions.
In a large soup pot over medium heat, combine the pasta sauce, prepared kidney beans, prepared chopped spinach, pasta and reserved pasta water.
Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally.
Add in four cups of water and simmer, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil for a little richness.
Ask and Answer: Many of you wondered, after reading my column about chocolate and peanut butter no bake cookies, if I had a recipe for just peanut butter no bake cookies. Yes, I do! If you visit my website and click on “blog”, it will take you to all of my recipes. Or you can simply type in “peanut butter no bake cookies” in the search engine found on every page of my website.