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Author Notes: This is my mom's recipe for Pasta e Fagiole—she really made this her own and was known for this dish. It took years for me to pry the recipe from her—like so many cooks she really didn't write anything down. She dictated this to me all from memory so it took me several years to get it right, but my latest version was the closest I have ever gotten to my mom's fabulous recipe. —sdebrango
Serves about 6
- 1 1/4 cups dried white beans
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1 piece salt pork (the size of a deck of cards, as my mom would say)
- 8 cups water
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- One 28 ounce can whole Italian tomatoes, blended until smooth
- 4 to 5 basil leaves, divided
- 28 ounces water (use the can the tomatoes came in to measure out)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 to 3 cups cooked pasta of your choice (cooked al dente)
- Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese, to serve
- In a large pot, bring the beans, smashed garlic, pork, and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for approximately 2 hours, until beans are tender. (I do not soak the beans overnight, but if you do, reduce cooking time by at least half.)
- In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat the olive oil, then add the minced garlic and shallots over medium heat. Cook until they are soft and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 3 basil leaves, and 8 ounces of water. Cook for 30 more minutes.
- Once the beans are cooked al dente, add both the beans and the water they cooked in to the tomato soup mixture. Simmer on low for 20 minutes. (The liquid will be thin—that is the way it's supposed to be.) Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Cook your pasta.
- Remove the salt pork and add the cooked pasta. Add in 2 or 3 additional torn basil leaves and simmer for about 5 minutes (this allows the noodles to soak up the wonderful flavor of the soup).
- Serve warm with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese.
- Note: You can add as much pasta as you like, but remember that it will expand in the soup and soak up the broth. Adding more noodles will lower the amount of broth you have, and you want to retain most of the broth.
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