Thursday, September 17, 2009

The last of Summer and the first of Fall

It's the first cool rainy day of the Fall season and I've not been motivated to do much today. I did, however, find a bit of inspiration in looking out my window: The last of my fresh basil, and I know just the recipe to use some of it up. A nice, hot bowl of Pasta e Fagioli with some crusty bread is just perfect for days like today.

Paste e Fagioli

1 cup ditalini pasta

2 T. olive oil

1 onion, minced

1 celery stalk, minced

1 carrot, minced

1/2 lb smoked ham, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes, including liquid

2 (15-oz) cans cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

4 cups beef stock

1 tsp dried thyme

1 bay leaf

dash ground black pepper

rind from a piece of Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil (optional)

Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large stockpot, heat the oil. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and saute for 5 minutes. Add ham and garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add tomatoes, beans, beef stock, thyme, bay leafand parmesan rind. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add ditalini pasta and simmer until pasta is tender, about 9 minutes. Serve with a garnish of fresh basil* and parmesan cheese.

*Recommended technique: Chiffonade the basil leaves just before garnishing the soup. Lay several basil leaves one on top of the other. Roll into a cylinder. With a sharp knife, make thin slices of basil. Unroll slices and use them for garnish. If making this soup for a crowd, or if basil is out of season, sprinkle the top of the soup with a bit of dried basil just before serving.


  1. Hahahahahahaha!!!
    "Parmesan cheese (optional)"
    Cheese...optional. Hahahahahahahaha!!!

  2. Good point... I should probably change that. I've yet to find a time when ANY cheese was optional!