A classic Italian soup, all grown up (but for kids, too!)
Pasta E Fagioli With Zucchini and Parmesan
The kids' table
Oh, the simple joy of an easy meal that can go in both directions, waltzing first to the kids' table and then -- with a few additions and a bottle of your favorite chianti -- traipsing easily to the adult table. Artfully and soulfully done, such a duet of a meal would play so that neither kids nor adults feel left out.
My babies are school-age teenagers. As you'd imagine, being kids of a culinary-brained mom, they grew up with lots of vegetables, bold flavors, and stinky odds and ends. Their noses and eyeballs are tuned up for discovery. Oft-heard at my table: "Hmmm, what's that?" Sometimes they don't even pause the fork for an answer before they dig in, and then it's a muffled. : "Yummm, what's this?"
With all this coming out of my kitchen, though, they still love the classics, and so many of those are simple. Unbelievably simple.
This includes my classical, unadorned version of a straight-up pasta e fagioli, the famous Italian bean soup with pasta.
Excellent quality canned beans and tomatoes make this come together in a flash between homework and piano practice.
And before bringing it to the adult table, I add in red chard (or escarole if it's available, because that's what they do in Italy), zucchini, and Parmesan. It turns this classic dish into something so beautifully tempting -- who knows? -- you just might be sharing your "adult" version with the little ones.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1-14.5-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
- 3 cans low sodium white cannellini beans
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 cups or more chicken stock
- 6 sprigs parsley
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 pound small bite-sized pasta such as macaroni
- 1 small head red chard, or a green such as kale, spinach, arugula
- 1 cup thinly sliced zucchini
I want a great texture for the soup for both adults and children, but I also want the adult version to be a little special. Let's start with something all kids will love.
- In your EuroCAST Dutch oven (get the 5 quart version here on special), heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.
- Sauté the onion and chopped garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8–10 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands or the back of a wooden spoon
- Cook the tomatoes, stirring often, until liquid is reduced by half.
- Add 2 cups stock, bring to a low simmer.
- Add beans and their liquid; cook until flavors meld, 12 minutes.
- Add chopped parsley.
Now that you have the basic soup, it's time to create a luscious texture.
- Remove 2 cups and blend it either with an immersion blender (be careful, soup is hot!) or a standing blender, then return blended soup to Dutch oven.
- Add pasta; cook, stirring and adding extra stock if needed. Cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes.
At this point you've completed the "kids' version" of this dish. But carry on for the more adventurous eaters.
For the adult version:
- Add zucchini and cook 1 minute
- Add red chard and cook until wilted, 4 to 6 minutes
- Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Serve soup drizzled with oil and then topped with Parmesan and chili flakes.