Bacon is my favorite color.
If not for the bacon – the heroic bacon – this would be an entirely beige bowl of soup.
I made this soup on one of the first cool, crisp days of the fall, and it was just what I needed: a little spicy, comforting, and oh-my-god-is-it-payday-yet cheap. The priciest ingredient used is the bacon, but with only three slices of bacon for 5-6 servings, it’s still a bargain. The bacon (yeah, I’m still talking about bacon) adds a smoky and savory depth to an otherwise plain soup.
But the hardworking protein source in this hearty soup is the creamy (and cheap!) cannellini beans. I absolutely love cannellini beans. They’re so smooth – they’re like bean-flavored butter.
The ridged macaroni fills out this soup perfectly. I made a big pot of pasta e fagioli on Sunday afternoon for my lunch the following week. I cooked all the pasta right away, but stored it in the fridge tossed with a tiny bit of olive oil separately from the rest of the soup, to keep it firm. Each morning I ladled out some soup into a plastic container and topped it with a handful of pasta. The texture of the soup and the pasta remained perfectly intact.
Recipe below the fold.
Pasta e Fagioli
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 (14.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup elbow macaroni
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until it’s nearly crisp. Stir in the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, beans, red pepper flakes, and herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer about 10 minutes.
Add the macaroni and boil with the lid on until it is al dente, about 8 minutes. If you’re not serving the soup all at once, prepare the pasta separately. Boil to al dente, drain, toss with a bit of olive oil, and put it in the fridge in a big plastic container with the lid off. When the pasta has cooled, put on the lid.
If you’re feeling fancy, sprinkle each serving with some grated Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with a hunk of bread to sop up the broth and a crispy romaine salad.