FROM “FOOD FOR THOUGHT”
Beans are “heart healthy” and contain an abundance of soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. They are loaded with nutrients our bodies crave, such as vitamin B, calcium, potassium, and folate. They are also low in fat, balance blood sugar, and are filled with fiber to help you feel fuller, longer. Beans offer several health benefits and are a rich source of protein. Adding rice to beans, for instance, can turn an incomplete protein into a complete one. Beans are filled with antioxidants and help reduce risk of cancer and diabetes. I eat and serve beans with almost every meal. I add them into salads, whip them smooth to spread on rice cakes, mix them with rice and pasta’s, and of course, make all kinds of soups. My favorite is one I would like to share with you! This recipe for Pasta Fagioli is from the northern region in Italy where my grandmother was born. When I visit my family in Italy, I always ask if they would make Pasta e Fagioli. It’s served with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and warm out of the oven crusty Italian bread. (Yes, I eat the bread in Italy; I can’t help it!) There is something so special about sitting around the family table enjoying music, laughter, conversation, wine, and of course great food.
This is an easy recipe to prepare and will be ready to serve in less than an hour.
Serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1- 28 oz can of Cento San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes
1 teaspoon each kosher salt and cracked black pepper
4 cups (1 quart) chicken or vegetable soup
2 -15-ounce cans cannellini beans. 1 can of beans with juice, the second can rinse in cool water until it runs clear and set aside
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1½ cups small pasta (such as shells, baby or small farfalle, or your favorite kind
Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Crushed red pepper, optional
6 basil leaves rolled tightly and sliced thin
3 Italian parsley stems, chopped coarsely
Balsamic Glaze, store-bought (optional) to drizzle over soup!
In a medium-sized soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium high heat for 30 seconds. Add the garlic; sauté just until they start to turn golden
Add the canned tomatoes, salt, pepper, chicken or vegetable stock, and 1 can of beans with juice, and crushed red pepper. Low boil 30-45 minutes until soup thickens
While the soup is on a low boil, cook pasta aldente, slightly underdone. Drain and rinse in cool water, drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mix to keep the pasta from sticking together, set aside. Do not overcook the pasta or it will get too soft and soggy in the soup.
When ready to serve, add the pasta the other can of beans that have been rinsed. Heat up to a gentle boil to get the soup hot!
Ladle into preheated bowls, garnish with Parmesan cheese, basil, and parsley and if using the balsamic glaze!
If the soup is too thick, just add more broth, a ¼ cup at a time.