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Now that we’ve entered January, it’s been seriously cold all around the country. And not regular cold, but icy, icy cold, if the TikTok videos we’ve seen of people’s hair freezing when they walk outdoors or of making ice cream in a KitchenAid stand mixer that’s on the porch are any indication. And while mittens and a good winter coat can help you stay warm outside, nothing warms you up from the inside out like a hearty bowl of soup. Ina Garten shared that when it recently snowed at her home in the Hamptons, she made a family favorite to stay warm: her Pasta e Fagioli, a recipe that’s featured in her cookbook Cooking for Jeffrey. But Garten put a new spin on the recipe, reaching for a bag of mixed beans to add a variety of colors, textures, and nutrients to the soup, rather than relying on a basic bag or can of white beans.
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Simply put, pasta e fagioli means pasta and beans in Italian. It’s a classic peasant-style dish that’s full of fiber, protein, carbs, and vegetables. The recipe can look different depending on where in Italy it’s prepared, and even in America there are regional variations (if you’re in New York, you probably know it as pasta fazool). So while some might claim that Ina Garten’s spin on the soup, which uses a 16-bean mix from Goya, isn’t authentic, it actually is super authentic to use whatever ingredients are on hand to make this cozy, comforting Italian pasta and bean soup.
Goya 16 Bean Soup Mix
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The one thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need to soak your beans overnight the day before you make the recipe, or try the quick soak method (bring the beans to a boil in a big pot of water, then leave them in the hot water, covered, for about an hour. Drain, and proceed with the recipe).
While the beans cook until tender, you can start the rest of the soup. The base of Garten’s pasta e fagioli is savory, salty pancetta. Then, the aromatic veggies are sautéed in the pancetta fat, and tomatoes, wine, chicken stock, and two thirds of the beans are added to the pot. Garten passes the other third through a food mill, discarding the skins, before adding to the soup, but you could also simply blend them with an immersion or regular blender.
The pasta gets added to the pot, and everything cooks together until tender. The pasta soaks up the flavor of the broth, so each bite pops. If you want a thinner soup, you can add more chicken stock, and if you want it to be thicker, you can simmer it for longer. Last but not least, Garten adds Parmesan cheese and vinegar to the pasta e fagioli, which adds umami and a bit of acid that help balance the flavor of the soup and make the broth sing. You could even take a page out of Giada De Laurentiis’ book and add some Parmesan rind to the soup when you add the broth to the pancetta, to deepen that cheesy flavor.
Don’t be afraid to experiement with your pasta e fagioli, using whichever beans, veggies, and short pasta you have on hand. This hearty, humble soup is so much more than the sum of its parts, and the next time you come inside from shoveling snow with frozen fingers and rosy cheeky, you can rely on a bowl of this classic Italian favorite to warm you right up.
Before you go, check out our gallery:
Watch: We Tried Ina Garten’s Overnight Mac & Cheese & We Totally Get Why It Broke the Internet
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