Sunday, January 22, 2017

Mark Bittman's Pasta e Fagioli Soup (with Kale Pesto & Capers) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It is the perfect soup weather weekend here with the blustery winds and 45 to 60 mph gusts that have growled loudly and even roared the past couple of days. Of course I lost power for a few hours yesterday, but things have calmed considerably and with strong breezes, the gusts occurring less frequently, and the temperature in the low 70s (F), I decided to make the Pasta e Fagioli from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

Bittman's recipes are always a good starting point for adapting and I have done so here based on what I had on hand. The soup calls for greens and I didn't have any but I did have some store-bought kale pesto that I had a coupon for and wanted to try. I thought it would be fun to top the soup with, along with some of my beloved capers--to liven things up with their bright briny taste. I also increased the recipe to have plenty soup for the week and added some dried herbs as the basil at the store was not looking pretty. My changes to the recipe are noted in red below. 

Pasta e Fagioli
Slightly Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
(Serves 4 to 6) 

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used 2 Tbsp olive oil)
1 medium onion, chopped (I used 2 leeks)
1 carrot, chopped (I used 2 carrots)
1 celery stalk, chopped (I used 3 celery stalks)

1 tsp minced garlic (or more to taste) (I added 3 garlic cloves, minced)
(I added 1 tsp each dried basil and dried oregano + 2 bay leaves)
1 to 1 1/2 cups hard vegetables, like potatoes, winter squash, parsnips, or turnips, peeled if necessary and cut into smaller than 1/2-inch dice (I used 2 cups Yukon Gold potatoes)
6 cups vegetable stock or water (I used 8 cups vegetable stock)
1 cup cored, peeled, seeded, and chopped tomato (canned is fine; include the juice) (I used 2 cans fire-roasted, diced tomatoes)
1 to 1 1/2 cups soft vegetables, like green beans, cooked dried beans, zucchini or summer squash, or dark, leafy greens like kale or collards, peeled if necessary and cut into smaller than 1/2-inch dice (I omitted & used kale pesto)
2 cups cooked beans (kidney, white, borlotti, chickpeas, canellini, or a mixture) (I used 1 1/2 cups kidney beans with 2 1/2 cups cannellini beans)
1/2 cup chopped parsley leaves (I omitted and used kale pesto)
1 cup tubetti or other small pasta (I used
2 cups Ditalini)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

(I added kale pesto and capers (rinsed & drained) to garnish)

Put the oil in a large, soup pot over medium heat. When hot, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetable softens, about 15 minutes.

Add the hard vegetables and  and dried herbs. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two, then add the stock and the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently,   stirring every now and then, until the vegetables are fairly soft and the tomatoes broken up, about 20 minutes. (Bittman notes: You may prepare the soup in advance up to this point. Cover, refrigerate for up to 2 days, and reheat before proceeding.)

Add the soft vegetables, beans, and the pasta, and adjust the heat once again so the mixture simmers. Cook until the vegetables are tender and the pasta is al dente, about 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve, garnished with pesto and capers if desired.

Notes/Results: After two weeks of turmeric and curry based soup, this Italian classic hit the spot. It is satisfying and delicious--especially once the pesto and capers are stirred into the soup. If you can't find kale pesto (the one I used is in the photo above), you can make your own or use a regular pesto you enjoy. I would happily make this one again.

I will be linking up this soup at I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is Potluck this coming week, our chance to make any recipe from our current, or any of our past featured chefs. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.

We have good friends in the Souper Sundays kitchen who shared some delicious dishes last week--let's have a look!

Melynda of Our Sunday Cafe shared this Roasted Lemon and Basil Salad Dressing made from lemons grilled and frozen in the warmer months. She said, "Those grill lemons were turned into a delicious salad dressing, and while it was not the warmth of the sun, it was a taste of springtime! Even if you do not have grilled lemons, give this dressing a try. Then next summer grill up a few, and stick them away in your freezer to bring out on the coldest of days to add a bit of springtime to your winter meals."

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen brought Light Fennel, Red Pepper and Butternut Stew, infused with caraway seeds. She said, "Fennel is still not used much in British cooking, but it is slowly making an appearance mostly in raw salad dishes because of its crunch and  its flavour reminisce of aniseed, star anise or even licorice flavour.  Unlike the British, the French and Italians are very fond of this feathery frond stemmed vegetable. I describe this Fennel, Red Pepper and Butternut Squash Stew as light as the sauce is not thick, its almost like a clear broth, like a consomme. It is also mildly spiced to warm your cheeks.

Debra of Eliot's Eats shared this Winter Romaine Salad with Butternut Squash and Roasted Chickpeas. She said, "All of these steps can be done ahead of time. This salad is best served when the ingredients are at room temperature but leftovers are just as good cold the next day. ... The squash and chickpeas can be roasted ahead of time to speed up your dinner prep.  This salad is great as leftovers. (And, I am imagining a red rice bowl with the squash and chickpeas.)"

Mahalo to everyone who joined in this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. Lovely soup. I have to differ with you about blustery though. Low 70s? It was 56 here today and I thought it was lovely. :) It's all about perspective, right?

    1. Well the blustery was more about the two days and nights of 30 mph winds with 45-65 mph wind gusts that did a lot of damage around the state and the rain bursts than the temp but for us, yes, low 70s in the daytime is considered cool. ;-)

  2. That's a great soup! Perfect fo the chilly nights we have been getting. Also for work, they don't give us much heat. I brought veggie soup to the party.

  3. I love the idea of kale pesto as a garnish in place of adding greens to the soup itself. Takes the soup to a whole new level and I'm thinking the greens are much more prevalent in pesto form rather than cooking down in the soup. Looks very pretty, also.

    Debra's salad with the pears,nuts, and roasted chickpeas is looks like it would hit the spot.

  4. Looks wonderful, and cute with those little bitty pasta shapes. A bowl of healthy goodness. :-)


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