Hello Fall....Hello Soup!
It was a dreary, drizzly first full day of fall here today so I decided to make soup for dinner. With fresh tomatoes, basil and parsley still available from the garden, I had everything I needed to put this soup together - including some homemade chicken stock from the freezer.
This is one of my all-time favorite soup recipes. The first time I made it was eleven years ago when it was given to my husband and I to prepare for an Italian-themed gourmet group event hosted by friends. I don't know where the recipe originally came from but the photocopy included in our gourmet menu packet looks like it came from a cookbook.
The addition of spinach to this otherwise classic Italian soup makes it even more healthy and delicious. A good handful of freshly grated Parmesan and some snipped parsley garnish this wonderful early fall soup.
Spinach, Pasta e Fagioli Soup
1 cup dried white beans (I use 1 can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 small bunch spinach (or bagged – about a cup, cut into thin julienne)
6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped, or 1 cup chopped canned tomatoes, well-drained.
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried
¾ cup dry pasta such as Ditalini
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
Freshly grated Parmesan
1. If using dry beans, soak overnight in enough cold water to cover generously or do a quick soak by bringing them to a boil in just enough water to cover, boiling for 2 minutes, then covering and letting stand for 1 hour. Drain.
2. In a 6-quart soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil, add the onions, and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots and sauté for 3 minutes. Add garlic, stock, beans (only if using dried), tomatoes and basil and simmer for about 30 minutes, partially covered.
3. Meanwhile, cook the noodles or pasta in boiling water, drain and reserve.
4. Add the beans now if using canned cannelini beans. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor making sure the vegetables still have some texture.
5. Return the pot of soup to medium-high heat, add the julienne of spinach and pasta. Cook for only about 5 minutes, then add salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons of the parsley and taste for seasoning.
6. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the remaining parsley and parmesan.
This soup can be prepared up to 3 days ahead through step 5 and then refrigerated. You can also freeze the soup. Adjust seasonings and add fresh herbs after reheating frozen soup.