If cooking isn't exactly one of your talents, hold onto this recipe. If it is, hold onto this recipe anyway. This chunky soup will dazzle your foodie friends and is also perfect to stash in a big tupperware to feed your family for the rest of the week. It's one of those comfort foods you'll find yourself craving on a cold, rainy day, and one you can whip up in half an hour. I first saw this recipe for Italian Pasta & Bean Soup in Woman's Day magazine. I made a few of my own improvisations and ended up with my dad's second-favorite soup. (His first-favorite? Check out my Curried Corn Bisque.)
Serves: About 6 Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: About 25 minutes
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped 2 tablespoons minced garlic 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth 1-1⁄2 cups bowtie pasta or other small pasta 1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes in juice 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional) 1⁄4 cup chopped parsley 1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté 5 minutes or until light golden. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add garlic and cook, stirring for almost a minute. (You may need to be careful -- garlic burns quickly!)
2. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook 5 minutes.
3. Stir in beans, mushrooms and tomatoes. Add a pinch more salt and pepper, if desired. Cook about 3-4 more minutes or until pasta is tender. Remove from heat.
4. Stir in parsley, cheese and remaining tablespoon of oil. Make sure you save a few pieces of parsley to add to the bowl upon serving, as a garnish.
My Notes: When it comes to beans, less can be more: When I first made this soup, I only had one can of cannellini beans. Upon draining them, I realized that two cans would be too much and may even overwhelm the other flavors. After all, the dish is heavy enough, what with the cup and a half of pasta. Unless you're a bean fiend, it's best to stick with just the one can.
More healthful with mushrooms: Mushrooms are one of my favorite vegetables and I try to sneak them into recipes whenever possible. I also thought I'd be remiss if I didn't add them to an Italian dish. I found the one cup to be a good amount; it's about as many mushrooms as there are beans. Slice them up so you don't end up with unwieldy chunks in your soup.