The classic pasta and bean soup, pasta e fagioli, is one of the best known soups in Italian cooking. It’s found all over that country, and is prepared in countless ways depending on the region or town. About the only thing the different versions have in common: They use beans and pasta.
This rustic, meatless soup is popular stateside, too. It makes a perfect winter meal. Our featured version comes from Brooke Jackson, a food writer and recipe developer in San Rafael, Calif. We met Brooke when she attended our recent Harvest Retreat. Brooke — introduced to us by our friend Marie Simmons, the award-winning cookbook author — later wrote a nice article about the Retreat.
Brooke told us her pasta e fagioli is “designed to showcase the wonderful flavors of this year’s newly harvested olive oil” — namely, our Limited Reserve extra virgin olive oil. (Click here to get the recipe.)
She also notes the soup is healthful. The cranberry beans are a good source of fiber. And the leafy greens — kale or Swiss chard — provide healthy doses of vitamins K and C. Moreover, a new study found that Italian women who ate plenty of leafy greens and olive oil appear to face a significantly lower risk of heart disease.
“One thing that I especially like about using greens in soups is that eaters can’t tell they are hiding in there,” Brooke says. “So I can fool my kids into getting their daily dose of greens and they don’t even know it.” In addition to kale and Swiss chard, Brooks says she’s used escarole to make the soup.
Brooke says you can use cranberry beans, also called borlotti beans, or you can substitute red beans, pinto beans or cannellini if they aren’t available.
“Adding a piece of the rind from a wedge of parmesan adds a creamy, rich flavor to the soup,” Brooke says. She also recommends each bowl of soup get a drizzle of EVOO just before serving.
Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch