You'd think on my sixth Boston winter, I would be able to handle the frigid cold by now. Nope! Not going to happen, probably ever. Of course I'm glad it held off as long as it did, but going from 50°F to 12°F in a two week span makes the cold even more unbearable. Okay, enough about the problem and more about the solution -- soup! The Italian classic, Pasta Fagioli.
Modern Pasta Fagoili recipes use chicken or beef broth and a meat like pancetta or spicy sausage. I went the veggie route, using vegetable broth and 5 different types of vegetables: carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes and swiss chard. The beans make the soup hearty and filling regardless, so just use whatever you have on hand. My secret ingredient is Parmesan cheese rind, it gives the broth amazing flavor. Just add the rind of Parmesan cheese when cooking, then discard when serving. Unless of course you want to eat it, I always do, it tastes like a chewy cheese crouton.
Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli Soup
1- Heat some oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven on medium high heat. When hot, add in the onions celery and carrots. Cook about a few minutes, then add garlic and some salt and pepper. The cook until onions are translucent, maybe another 5-7 minutes.
2- Add tomatoes and beans. Cook for a few minutes, then add the Parmesan rind, chili flakes, thyme and the broth (use your judgement so there's not too much or too little broth in proportion to the veggies -- remember the pasta is going to soak up a lot of broth later on).
3- Bring to a boil, the reduce to a simmer. Cook from 30 minutes, up to 2 hours -- depending on how much time you have. The longer the better, but it will be ready to eat in about 30. Add more chili and salt and pepper to taste.
4- About ten minutes before you are ready to serve, add in the chard (or any other greens you are using). Cook the pasta separately, not in the soup, and then add once it's done.
5- Add some grated Parmesan and serve.
7- Bring leftovers to work.
8- Eat again. And again.
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About the authors
Michelle Zippelli is a Boston based hedonist who is committed to finding the best food that Boston has to offer. She has lived in Boston for 6 years and works in online marketing. Michelle loves meatballs, live music, exotic cheeses, Mexican food, spur of the moment dance parties, and all things pickled.
Jacki Morisi is a self-proclaimed bon vivant extraordinaire. A Boston native whose waking hours are exclusively focused on travel, music, food, and fare ... emphasis on food and fare. She's a firm believer that just because you're living on a young professional's budget doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste, and carries this mantra into each and every dining endeavor.