Cooking Italy: Pasta é Fagioli~

1 11 2010

The last week of October at Cooking Italy had us preparing Marcella Hazan’s recipe Pasta é Fagioli as described in her book, Essentials of Italian Cooking.   This was particularly fun for me, because 2 weeks ago, I prepared Marcella’s son’s (Giuliano’s) recipe for the same soup from his book, Thirty Minute Pasta.  I confess, now I’m really sorry I didn’t keep just a few ounces of Giuliano’s version frozen for a side-by-side taste comparison.  Hmmm…well…that’s not to say I couldn’t make another batch of Giuliano’s version…oh!  Don’t get me going!  LOL!  They’re both very, very good, and we loved the rich heartiness of both versions.

One of the main differences between Marcella’s version of this soup and her son’s is the beans.  Marcella cooks her beans from raw-fresh (I’ve never even SEEN a fresh-raw cranberry bean in person!) or dried (not available in my town…go figure).  I went for cooking from dried, and didn’t let them soak long enough…that’s why they split open.  In this application that didn’t matter much.  Canned cranberry beans aren’t available here either, which is why I used canned cannellini beans when I made Giuliano’s soup.  I would seriously consider making that substitution with this version as well.

Other than that, most of the ingredients are the same…there’s onion, carrot, celery…tomatoes, beans…I used our own tomatoes, in both recipes.  We have them falling off the vines, still.  Hey…it’s California.  The temps are supposed to be up into the 70’s again…go figure.  By the way…does anyone have any absolutely-to-die-for green tomato recipes??  I have at least a lug…maybe 2…green tomatoes that I’m sure won’t ripen.  Whoops…back to the soup…  There were two other major differences in the soups… Marcella’s recipe called for a ham bone…a bit of pork, even a pork chop while Giuliano’s called for none, and Giuliano’s soup called for a cooked, riced potato, which Marcella’s did not.  Interesting.

Here are the two soups together…

This is Giuliano’s soup on the left.  It had a really thick and robust consistency.  A lot of that was due to the potato, but equally as much due to the thick rich consistency of the beans.

Now we have Marcella’s soup on the right.  The color difference is due to the difference in the choice of beans.  The cranberry or borlotti beans cooked up darker than the canned cannellini beans.

Tasting Notes~
I don’t think it really matters a whole lot which version of this soup you make…you just need to make one of them some chilly Fall night.  They both have incredibly flavor and are truly hearty enough to be supper.  This soup with a little hearty garlic bread…add a salad if you like…toss a small steak on the grill…boil up a few ravioli…paired with or stand alone, this is one of my favorite soups!  It’s got that peasant-rustic quality that draws me in every time!  It also has holding power.  It can be reheated with the addition of a little water or broth quite easily for a quick lunch or to add it as a primi course!  Just don’t deny yourself…either recipe is easy enough to make this a wonderful Autumn treat!