Italian Food - Pasta and Bean Stew (Pasta e Fagioli)
Pasta e Fagioli
What is Pasta e Fagioli?
Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta Fazool)
I grew up in a mostly Polish-German area of north central Wisconsin. The only Italian food that we ate came from cans labeled Chef Boyardee.
I tasted my first pizza when I attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1958. When I graduated from school, my first job was for Dupont in Newburgh, New York, where the population was mostly Italian.
All of the young engineers working at that location had hourly assistants helping them. Mine was named John Dubaldi and another one was Frankie Fabiano.
Frankie was newly married and each day he would call his wife before leaving work to ask if she wanted him to stop for anything on the way home. She would always end her list with "and bring me a pack of cigarettes and a surprise".
Frankie used to always rave about his wife’s "pasta fazool" as he called it. He would say "I have to hurry home tonight because my wife made pasta fazool with a leftover ham bone.
Unfortunately, he never invited me to dinner, but he made me curious and I eventually learned to make it on my own. Many recipes for pasta fazool start with some pancetta or bacon, but I like to start with a leftover ham bone just like Frankie’s wife did.
1 Ham Bone with some meat left on it
4 Cans of Cannelloni Beans drained and rinsed
1 Medium Onion peeled and finely chopped
3 Garlic Cloves minced
1-32 Oz. Box of Chicken Stock
4 Cups of Water
1 14 Oz. Can of Crushed Tomatoes
1 Bay Leaf
1 Teaspoon of dry Thyme (you can substitute basil if you want to but I prefer thyme)
½ Teaspoon of Black Pepper
8 Oz. of Elbow Macaroni
½ Cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Place the ham bone in a 6-8 quart kettle, add the water, the chicken stock and the bay leaf and simmer for about two hours until the meat is ready to fall off of the bone.
- Remove the bone and meat to a plate to cool and strain the remaining liquid before returning it to the original soup kettle.
- Add the chopped onion, garlic, crushed tomatoes, cannelloni beans, thyme and black pepper to the soup and simmer for at least an hour to blend the flavors.
- Meanwhile, strip the ham off of the bone, remove any fat and gristle, cut the ham into bite-sized pieces and add them to the soup.
- At this point you can taste the soup and add salt if necessary. I sometimes like to add a couple of tablespoons of ketchup to give the soup a hint of sweet sour.
- Cook the elbow macaroni (or your Favorite Italian pasta) according to the directions on the box. Be sure to leave it a little underdone, as it will continue to cook in the soup.
- Serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese on the side and some crusty Italian bread.
Pasta e Fagioli
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