Filling pasta e fagioli soup with sausage meatballs and kidney beans, this is one of our favorite Italian bean soups.
PASTA E FAGIOLI SOUP WITH SAUSAGES
I haven’t posted a soup recipe on the blog in several weeks, so it was time again. I haven’t counted but I have the feeling that I have more soups on my blog than anything else…
No wonder, we eat soup at least twice a week. Lots of bean soups too. The Romanian bean soup with meat is still my number one, I grew up with it, but this Italian pasta e fagioli soup comes very close to the top spot.
I mean, not only the beans,which I so love, but those sausage meatballs… so hearty and full of flavor and then the little pasta shapes. Not only you would love it, but – despite the beans this time – your children will love this Italian bean soup as well.
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ITALIAN BEAN SOUP WITH PASTA
I’ve been making a version or another of this pasta e fagioli soup for years now. At first without the sausages, they came after I saw a recipe for the Italian bean soup with meatballs somewhere online.
And when researching for this particular recipe, I was surprised to find out that most pasta e fagioli soup recipes offered by a Google search have to do with Olive Garden, which apparently is an Italian restaurant somewhere in the US.
I don’t live in America, so this must be the reason why I have never even heard of Olive Garden or the pasta e fagioli soup in Olive Garden style.
I am convinced that that version of the Italian bean and pasta soup is wonderful, but today I just wanted to give you a different version, a version which, in my humble opinion, is closer to the original Italian pasta e fagioli soup.
Well, OK, the sausage meatballs might be slightly out of place in this case too, but they taste so good, I just rarely leave them out nowadays.
ORIGINAL PASTA E FAGIOLI SOUP
Originally, pasta e fagioli is not really a soup like we know it, but more of a thick noodle and bean dish. A simple, so-called peasant dish, using few and very cheap ingredients, filling and vegetarian.
There are many version of the Italian pasta e fagioli soup, depending on the region and on the cook, I suppose. This is always the case with very traditional recipes, each home has its own version and each cook is convinced his or her version is the best one.
What all these pasta and bean soups have in common are the beans and the pasta. Some blended tomatoes or passata are to be found in most recipes as well. Some people add pancetta or prosciutto, some add some Parmesan, some leave it vegetarian/vegan.
Either way, this soup is gooooood! Filling, comforting and reliable.
Most Italian recipes for the pasta e fagioli soup I saw online use borlotti or cannellini beans, which I use myself often enough. Today’s I chose kidney beans because I just happened to have a whole bag of dried kidney beans that had to be used.
Have a look at those other kidney bean recipes I managed to cook with that bag of beans: Jamaican Rice and Peas and the Indian Rajma. One bag of beans let us enjoy delicious food from three extremely different regions of the world.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE ITALIAN BEAN SOUP WITH PASTA
As mentioned above, you can use borlotti, cannellini or red kidney beans. I prefer to cook my own beans. You will need 400 g/ 14 oz cooked beans for this pasta e fagioli soup, a little more or less is fine. If using canned beans, 2 cans will be fine.
To get about 400 g/ 14 oz cooked beans, you will have to cook about 200 g/ 7 oz dried kidney beans.
To cook the beans, rinse them and soak them overnight in plenty of water. Drain the beans, give them to a large pot and cover again with fresh water.
Bring to a boil, let boil for about ten minutes, turn the heat down and simmer the kidney beans for at least 45 minutes or until tender.
Most packages of dried beans state that the beans should be ready in 45 to 60 minutes. Well, I never managed to cook beans that quickly unless they were tiny. I always need longer, so do check your beans after the initial 45 minutes, but give them as much time as they need. Keep checking and cook them until tender.
Don’t overcook them either or their skin will break and the beans will become too mushy and disintegrate when added to other dishes.
The fastest method of cooking beans remains the pressure cooker, use it if you have it.
Use small pasta shapes like ditalini, orecchiete or even orzo.
If cooking your own beans, you can use the cooking liquid of the beans with 1-2 additional chicken or vegetable stock cubes, to taste.
Otherwise, when making this Italian bean soup with canned beans, I use homemade chicken stock.
I use regular German pork sausages. Italian sausages can be used instead.
You can make the meatballs for the pasta e fagioli soup using ground meat as well, preferably a mixture of beef and pork. To make the meatballs with ground meat, season the meat generously with salt, pepper, sweet or hot paprika (to taste), fresh or dried herbs likes parsley, oregano or thyme. Form the meatballs and continue with the recipe.
Typical Italian dried herbs like bay leaves, dried thyme and dried rosemary. I added 2 teaspoons homemade pesto (in my case wild garlic pesto, but regular pesto is just as good) at the end of the cooking time. It is not traditional and it is optional, but it tastes good.
I finished the dish with some chopped parsley and a little Parmesan.
HOW TO MAKE PASTA E FAGIOLI SOUP
- If using red kidney beans, rinse and soak them overnight. Drain, cover with water again, add the spices, bring to a boil, boil for 10 minutes, lower the heat and simmer the beans until tender, at least 45 minutes and longer if needed. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid.
- Puree half of the cooked beans. Set aside.
- Cook the onion and the garlic for about 2 minutes. In the meantime, puree the tomatoes (you can use the same amount of tomato puree/passata di pomodoro from a jar. Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste to the pot, stir well and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Add the pureed beans, the whole beans and 1 liter/ 34 fl.oz/ 4 1/3 cups of the beans’ cooking liquid or chicken stock. Add the thyme, rosemary and sugar. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook gently for 20 minutes. If using bean stock, you might want to add 1 or 2 cubes chicken or vegetable stock to give it more flavor.
- In the meantime make the sausage meatballs.
- See above if making meatballs out of ground meat.
- Remove the sausages’ casings and form small meatballs, about the size of a cherry. Wet your hands when rolling the meatballs, this makes the rolling easier. Add the meatballs to the soup.
- Add the pasta. Read the packet’s instructions and cook the pasta shapes accordingly. My pasta needed 7 minutes, so the meatballs had enough time (9-10 minutes) to be cooked through. If your pasta shapes need a shorter cooking time, give the meatballs a few minutes more before adding the pasta.
- Step 6: Add the pesto and adjust the taste with salt and pepper. Add lots of chopped parsley and a grating of Parmesan just before serving.
- Serve immediately with some crusty bread, if desired.
MORE BEAN SOUPS?
- 200 g/ 7 oz/ 1 1/8 cups dried red kidney beans (See note 1)
- 2 medium onions, divided
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 200 g/ 7 oz/ about 2-3 smaller tomatoes (See note 2)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 liter/ 34 fl.oz/ 4 1/3 cups of the beans' cooking liquid or chicken stock (See note 3)
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 450 g/ 1 lbs sausages
- 80 g/ 2.8 oz/ generous ¾ cup ditalini
- 1-2 teaspoons pesto
- a small bunch of fresh parsley
- fine sea salt
- ground black pepper
- If using dried beans, soak them overnight in plenty of water. Drain, cover with water again, add the onion, bay leaves and black peppercorns, bring to a boil, boil for 10 minutes, then lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes or longer until the beans are tender.
- Check after 45 minutes and adjust the cooking time accordingly. Drain the beans, but reserve the cooking liquid. Discard the onion and spices.Puree half of the cooked beans. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Finely chop the second onion and the garlic and cook them for about 2 minutes. In the meantime, puree the tomatoes or use some pureed ones from a jar.
- Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste to the pot, stir well and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Add the pureed beans, the whole beans and the beans' cooking liquid or chicken stock. Add the thyme, rosemary and sugar. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook gently for 20 minutes. If using bean stock, you might want to add 1 or 2 cubes chicken or vegetable stock to give it more flavor.
- In the meantime make the sausage meatballs. See above if making meatballs out of ground meat. Remove the sausages' casings and form small meatballs, about the size of a cherry. Add them to the soup and simmer for about 2 minutes.
- Add the pasta. Read the packet's instructions and cook the pasta shapes accordingly. My pasta needed 7 minutes, so the meatballs had enough time (9-10 minutes) to be cooked through. If your pasta shapes need a shorter cooking time, give the meatballs a few minutes more before adding the pasta.
- Add the pesto (1 or 2 teaspoons to taste) and adjust the taste with salt and pepper. Add lots of chopped parsley and a grating of Parmesan just before serving.
- Serve immediately with some crusty bread.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1/6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 561Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 1414mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 12gSugar: 20gProtein: 29g