This moment seven years ago, I was basking in the afterglow of my blessingway and heading out to supper with my husband, my almost-four-year-old little girl, and my friends Gina and Rachel. It was snowing then, as it's snowing right now. The next morning, I woke up and had a baby!
In other news, I have been feeling crabby today, had a slight headache, and snapped at my children. It was altogether not a great afternoon.
Saturday night, after a long day playing out in the snow (snowmen were made), we made my favorite soup, Pasta Fagioli. Or Pasta e Fagioli for the fancier people.
My parents used to go to this restaurant ages ago, it reminded me of the type of fine dining establishment you might see in the Godfather movies. I mean, it was really nice, but it was definitely that old school, urban Italian-American feel. There used to be a few of those places in the city where I grew up but they all seem to have disappeared with time.
Anyway. If you went to this lovely little Italian restaurant, they brought you out a bowl of this soup to start. My mom was able to get the recipe by a slightly mafia-esque maneuver (exaggerating! I'm exaggerating!), and now I'm going to share it with you, only slightly updated to include canned beans because I never remember to soak mine the night before. Bad crunchy mama. :)
Pasta Fagioli Soup
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced celery
(We made a double batch this weekend and to save time we used the food processor but oh, it's so much better when you dice by hand.)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground black pepper (please take my word for it and don't skimp on the pepper)
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can small white beans, rinsed and drained (Great Northern or Navy beans)
7-8 cups chicken broth (you can use vegetable broth if you'd like a vegetarian soup -- also, if you use reduced sodium broth, you may wish to add salt to the soup)
1 cup small pasta (tiny bow-ties are traditional, or you can use little macaronis. We had to settle for large pasta this time which wasn't quite the same)
In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Make a mirepoix with the onions, carrots, and celery. When they are richly fragrant (about 8-10 minutes), add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the basil and pepper, give it a good stir, and then add the tomatoes, beans, and broth. Simmer for at least 20 minutes, preferably longer.
Add the pasta, bring to a boil, and cook until pasta is done.
Serve with bread, grated cheese, or whatever you like.
Best soup ever.