Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta and Bean Soup

Every Italian family has its own favorite recipe for pasta e fagioli, or “macaroni and beans,” as my mom called it. This delicious dish is pureed smooth after it’s cooked, and it tastes best with a slice of bread spread with a thin layer of peanut butter—this sounds unusual, but trust me on this one, it is truly wonderful and it’s the way my father-in-law, and now my husband, eats his.

Ingredients

  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, picked over
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 8 ounces ziti, cooked according to package directions

Method

  1. Measure the water and beans into a stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, at a medium boil for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the oil, garlic, fresh and dried sage, salt, pepper, and tomato paste. Stir well to combine. Cover and continue cooking at a medium boil, stirring occasionally, for another 1½ hours, or until the beans are soft.
  2. Taste for seasonings. If you have a hand blender, use it to puree the soup until smooth. Or puree the soup in a food processor, being careful not to burn yourself. Return the pureed soup to the pot and reheat over low heat if desired.
  3. To serve, ladle the soup into eight soup bowls and top each serving with one-eighth of the cooked ziti, using a spoon to push the ziti down into the soup. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.