Giada’s Twist on Pasta Fagioli–Pasta e Ceci

This week has been a doozy–full of work, lots of stuff going on after work, and drizzly, cold weather to make everything just a touch more drab.  But you know who’s there to help you get through a drizzly, chilly night?  Giada with her Everyday Pasta cookbook, that’s who.

photo from williams-sonoma.com

photo from williams-sonoma.com

Giada’s Pasta e Ceci recipe made its way to our table last night around 10 pm, and it was worth the wait.  (No, it doesn’t take that long to make.  It was just a late cooking night.)

I love Pasta e Fagioli, which is a similar tomato/beans/pasta soup.  But it’s always nice to find a worthy twist on a long-standing favorite.  In this case, the twist is mostly a different bean and pasta shape (garbanzo and ditalini).

Oooh, and if you don’t happen to have cheesecloth and twine in your drawer, you could use a tea-leaf holder (one that closes around the loose tea leaves and can be steeped in your water or soup or whatever).  That worked pretty beautifully, in my completely biased opinion.

With no further ado, you should try this recipe the next time you find yourself amidst a drizzle and in need of some warming up.

Giada’s Pasta e Ceci

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 large fresh rosemary spring
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion (1 medium onion)
  • 3 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 3/4 cup ditalini or other small, tubular pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Instructions

  1. Wrap the thyme, rosemary and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and secure with kitchen twine to make a sachet (or put the herbs into a tea-steeping something or other).  Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, pancetta and garlic and sauté until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, beans, tomatoes and herb sachet. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the sachet.
  2. Transfer 1 cup of the bean mixture to a blender and reserve. Add the ditalini to the soup pot, cover, and bring the liquid back to a boil. Boil gently until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Puree the reserved bean mixture until smooth, then stir the puree into the boiling soup. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Serve it up with some Parmesan on top.
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