Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pasta Fagioli

This week I am honored to turn over the LC floor to another talented cook. Ellen from La Pure Mama is a fantastic cook that makes vegetarian and vegan food fun and sexy. Her writing is witty and her photos are gorgeous. All in all, a great blogger. Not to mention, a very sweet gal.

Seriously, whether you are vegetarian, vegan, or a meat-eater lookng for some clever ideas for veggie dishes, please drop by La Pure Mama.  I promise you will find a fabulous new blog to follow.

Guest Post Spotlight Thursday


Hello Lazaro Cooks! readers! I am so pleased to be here. I personally lurve reading Lazaro's posts, just like you and I think we can all agree that he's basically amazing. That being said, thank you Lazaro! It's a true honor that you have asked little old me to be here.

Right now I am vacationing in Italy which means before we left I knew I would either come up with something amazing IN Italy and then prepare that post while in Italy, or be ultra proactive and prepare something ahead of time on the off chance that my dreams of cooking amazing things while in Italy, wouldn't happen.

Teetering on the obsessive compulsive fence, I chose to prepare something ahead of time; something traditional to the Italian region we were visiting. Just in case. This turned out to be a fantastical idea because I have been doing way too much eating to do very much cooking. Ha! And so here it is...

Here in the heart of Tuscany I have learned two things: 1. Noodle Nose, my 4 1/2 year old heartbreaker has found Sofia, the love of his life. 2. Pasta Fagioli is a staple here. Traditionally it is a bean and pasta soup but they also have a version served with bread instead of pasta and that version can be found in virtually any restaurant in the Tuscany area.

Before Italia, pasta fagioli to me, was a simple line in a song. You know the one.... 'when the moon hits the sky like a big-a pizza pie that's...' yep. You know the one.

I always imagined pasta fagioli as a giant bowl of pasta smothered in some kind of ultra heavy red sauce most likely laden with meat, so I have never ventured to learn more until my travels sent me to pasta fagioli 'heartland'.

Considered a 'peasant dish', I assume the bread or pasta is interchanged depending on what was available. I have had it both ways and not only is it incredibly simple, it is delicious, herby and satisfying. And as if that wasn't enough, there's a bonus: It makes the house smell fantastic.

So once again, Lazaro: grazie for asking me to be here. It truly is an honor and I hope this simple yet delicious post does your blog proud :)

Pasta Fagioli

Yield, about 8-10 servings (leftovers or good for a crowd)


2 cups dry canellini beans, soaked in water overnight
4 cups water
3 Tablespoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 sweet white onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3-4 stalks celery, chopped
3 fresh sage leaves, chopped fine
2 teaspoons dried oregano

4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta (or other small pasta)


After you have soaked your canellini beans over night, put them in a crock pot with the water, 3 Tablespoons oregano and the 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook on low for about 5 hours.

Note: you can also cook them in a pot, if you're going to be home, but the crockpot makes life a little easier.

To prepare your soup base, heat a little extra virgin olive oil in your soup pot and add the garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes then add the onion. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes.

When onion is soft, add carrot and celery to the mix and let cook for about 4 minutes, stirring as you go.

Note: the combination of onion, carrot and celery is called mire poix. You can buy it already chopped at Joes or you can make it yourself.

Once everything is rather soft, add sage and oregano, give it a stir then add salt pepper and vegetable broth. Turn heat down from medium to low, cover and let sit.

After your soup base has cooked for a while, give it a taste and add salt and pepper as needed. I found it needed more.

Add dry orzo pasta to your soup base and take about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of water from your crockpot of beans. Also, you can turn off the crockpot now :)

The water from the beans is better than using regular water because a: it's already hot and has flavor from cooking the beans and b: it would be a shame to waste it.

Note: you can't really add too much water because the pasta will soak some up and you still want enough liquid to your soup. You will need to add more salt and pepper though.

Return heat to medium, cover and let simmer so the pasta can cook. Let it go for about 5 minutes then check it.

When pasta is al dente, reduce heat to low and transfer beans to your soup base 1 cup at a time.

Note: you won't be using all the beans for your soup. You should have about 1 1/2 cups left over. I'll show you what to do with that later.

Give the whole thing a good stir then taste it and add salt and pepper if needed. Cover and let cook for about another 10-15 minutes then taste it again. At this point the pasta should be ready and you just want to ensure that the salt and pepper ratio is to your liking. If it is, serve it up! If not, add more, stir and cover to allow flavors to combine.


Ladle into a bowl and serve with garlic cheddar crostini or classic crusty bread.

Enjoy folks, thanks again Lazaro and I hope to see you all soon!

Arivederci from Italia!

Please drop by La Pure Mama for more awesome vegan food!


  1. hi Ellen,

    thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. i do eat meat, but not a whole lot. i really enjoy vegetarian dishes like this. your pasta fagioli looks delicious and sounds healthy. i'm also eye that wonderful garllic cheddar crostini - so perfectly browned. it's snowing like crazy here so i would've loved to have this for dinner. my kind of yummy, warm comfort food on a cold day.


    thank you for another great guest post. i always leave your blog drooling, and you're right, her photos ARE gorgeous.

  2. Hi Ellen, Ahh...Pasta Fagioli very nice choice and wonderful recipe, great photos as well... I hope your trip is lovely...
    And I agree Lazaro is the best!

  3. Hi Ellen :) We just had a thick and rich pasta soup earlier this week (been happening a lot lately)so trust me, I LOVE your soup! I have to try mixing beans in with the pasta next time - I always thought having them together in the same pot would make it too carbohydrated (think I just made that up LOL)but this looks so good, I'm convinced it would work beautifully.

    Thanks Lazaro for shining the spotlight on Ellen!

  4. This is what I so love...peasant food. I was just telling Laz that I adore pasta with beans and as "pedestrian" as that sounds, it is so satisfying and versatile. THANK YOU FOR SHARING such a heartwarming adventure in Tuscany and this marvelous dish for these cold winter days ahead of me in Minnesota! Anita

  5. Delish! This is one of my favorite pasta dishes. So tell me, do the Italians call it "fajoli" or "fazool"?


    PS - thanks for steering me over to this blog. I don't think I've been here before. I'm off to explore it some more.

  6. I adore peasant food. I suspect there are as many pasta fagioli recipes as are there cooks in Italy. Every recipe I see seems to be different. Lucky you to be in Italy.

    I'll be sure to give yours a try because white beans are so creamy and good. I've been using Giada's recipe and, believe it or not, she uses kidney beans.

  7. one of my favorite guests posts yet. Jealous that that Ellen is in Italy! looks like one of the more heartier soups I've seen and the garlic cheddar crostini looks delicious!

  8. Sometimes peasant food is way better than non-peasant food, and I think this is one of those examples. LOVE pasta e fagioli, such a great and comforting soup, and I love the crostini with it, a nice alternative to plain bread for soaking up extra yumminess :)

  9. Hi Ellen, I would like to try this. Looks so delicious and thank you for sharing this healthy recipe. :)

  10. Thanks for sharing this lovely rustic Italian soup with those wonderful toasts, I'm drooling for this meal. Have fun in Italy:)

    Thanks Lazaro for spot lighting another tantalizing recipe and inspiring blogger:)

  11. Thank you, everyone for the very kind comments! So glad you're all loving the dish. It is a favorite in our house now.

    And thank you again, Lazaro, for the guest post. I so appreciate you and your wonderful cooking! :)

  12. Lazaro, thanks for introducing us to another wonderful blogger!

    Ellen, this looks wonderful! We've been enjoying so many hearty soups and stews lately and this will make a delicious addition to our repertoire. Hope you're having a wonderful time on vacation!

  13. Peasant food at it's best. What a great dish for a gloomy, chilly New York day.

    I am looking forward La Pure Mama blog and thank you Lazaro for introducing me.

    Hasta la pasta!

  14. I just made a cassoulet with cannellini beans and was crazy about it... this is a great recipe.. thanks Lazaro, for the introduction to a new blogger!

  15. Absolutely gorgeous, Ellen. I love this dish and will have to try your recipe. It looks better than mine! YUM!

  16. Your soup looks so warm and comforting! And I absolutely adore those little cheesy crostini. DELICIOUS! :-)

  17. This is one of my favorite soups. Sometimes I mash some of the beans and then add them to the pot. Yummy.

  18. Ellen, how fun that you are in Italy right now! This pasta fagioli is lovely, sure sounds warming and comforting. The garlic cheddar crostini go with the dish very nicely.

  19. Hi Ellen! So nice to learn about your blog. This looks like a dish that could very quickly become go-to comfort food! Enjoy your time in Tuscany!

  20. We love pasta fagioli, its just amazing how many variations there are of this dish! Here's another delicious sounding version!~

  21. Wow, Tuscany! Ellen, you are a lucky girl! Pasta fagioli is one of my favorites. I can only dream of what it's like is Tuscany. I'm used to having it with ditalini in it, but I'm really liking the orzo! Great guest post, Lazaro!

  22. What a wonderful guest post. ( and yes i never really knew what this was either, it look heavenly)

  23. Nice to hear that you're having a great time in Tuscany. Dreaming of going there someday. Your Fagioli soup looks very soulful, hearty, and comforting. Most dishes that they consider to be for "peasant" or "commoners" or "the usual staple in a local" have the most authentic flavors and have the deepest story or should i say history behind it, which makes it more meaningful, thus the other way around - extra special for me. Thanks for sharing this wonderful rustic recipe to us, and nice meeting you! Thanks Laz for featuring Ellen..

  24. Italia! I over ate myself during my vacation in Italy. Have fun there! As being a sicko, this soup sounds super good to me. Eating it with the rustic bread is a way to go Ellen!

  25. One of my favorite hearty soups! And your rustic garlic cheddar crostini really speaks to me. I use the leftover cannelini beans to make a creamy bean dip - curious to see what you do with them :) Have a wonderful stay in Tuscany!

  26. Hi Ellen,
    Love your delicious , herby and satisfying Pasta Fagioli! With rustic garlic cheddar crostini this vegan dish will soon be in my fav list! Great pics!


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