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This is our variation on pasta e fagioli ("pasta fazool," pasta and beans), a dish served all over Italy. It's a hearty soup, thick and rich with vegetables. Serve it with pane pugliese for a satisfying and traditional Italian repast.
1 cup (8 ounces) dried white beans
4 cups (32 ounces) water
10 cups (80 ounces) chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups (9 ounces) diced onions (1 1/2 medium)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) sliced carrots (2 medium)
1 1/2 cups (6 1/2 ounces) diced celery
2 to 3 cups (12 ounces) diced fennel (1 bulb)
4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 bay leaves
1 cup (2 ounces dry) uncooked bow-tie pasta
1/2 cup (1 ounce) sun-dried tomatoes, diced (or dried tomato flakes)
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
Clean and soak the beans in the 4 cups of water. You can soak them overnight, or do a "quick soak" by bringing the beans and water to a boil, removing them from the heat, and letting them soak for 1 hour.
Drain the beans, and place them in a large soup pot with the chicken stock. Saute the vegetables in the olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add the vegetables, garlic and bay leaves to the beans in the chicken stock. Simmer for 1 hour, or until the beans are tender.
Add the pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, oregano and thyme to the soup, then simmer for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Serve hot, sprinkled with the fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese. Yield: about 10 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (1 1/4 cups soup, 334g): 162 cal, 6g fat, 6g protein, 21g complex carbohydrates, 4g dietary fiber, 4mg cholesterol, 1069mg sodium, 469mg potassium, 543RE vitamin A, 8mg vitamin C, 2mg iron, 79mg calcium, 98mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XI, No. 2, Winter 2000 issue.