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.

This "adult" version of the Italian classic soup,  pasta e fagioli,  adds a few touches towards the end of cooking and at the table to bring in seasonal vegetables and the incredible flavor of high-quality, thinly sliced Parmesan cheese.

This "adult" version of the Italian classic soup, pasta e fagioli, adds a few touches towards the end of cooking and at the table to bring in seasonal vegetables and the incredible flavor of high-quality, thinly sliced Parmesan cheese.

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.

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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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Procedure

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.

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  1. In your EuroCAST Dutch oven (get the 5 quart version here on special), heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.
  2. Sauté the onion and chopped garlic, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8–10 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands or the back of a wooden spoon
  4. Cook the tomatoes, stirring often, until liquid is reduced by half.
  5. Add 2 cups stock, bring to a low simmer.
  6. Add beans and their liquid; cook until flavors meld, 12 minutes.
  7. Taste.
  8. Season.
  9. Add chopped parsley.

Now that you have the basic soup, it's time to create a luscious texture.

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  1. 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.
  2. 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:

  1. Add zucchini and cook 1 minute
  2. Add red chard and cook until wilted, 4 to 6 minutes
  3. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serve soup drizzled with oil and then topped with Parmesan and chili flakes.

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EuroCAST Starter Set

The EuroCAST Starter Set gives you a 10” high-sided gourmet pan so you can feel like a pro. The cover also fits the included 10” sauté pan. Rounding out the set is the 1-1/2 Quart sauce pan, perfect for easy-clean-up sauces, gravies, rice, and vegetables.

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Paul WardComment