In the voice of Bob Sheppard, "Now cooking for Michele, number 99 - Kim Riemann." Okay - don't know who Bob Sheppard is? Well, then that reference is lost on you (the rest of you get it right?) - basically, I'm "pinch-hitting" for Michele this week and her assignment is to make Pasta e Fagioli soup.
I'm no stranger to Pasta e Fagioli soup (known around these parts as Pasta Fajola or a little further northeast, Pasta Fazool - no, I'm not kidding), it's one of our favorites (always stop at the Carnivale Italiano for the local Italian ladies version every summer - though that's definitely not Pasta Fagioli weather - but I digress). So when I saw the opportunity to
snag this recipe help Michele out, I jumped at it.
The first difference I noticed between what I've made (or eaten) in the past is the bean Marcella uses. She's a fan of the cranberry bean while here I've seen the red kidney bean (and sometimes even the cannellini bean) used though she does say that red kidney beans would be an acceptable substitute. Now the thing you should know about Cranberry beans (and unfortunately, I could not find them fresh this time of year, so I went with the dried version), is they go by other names (see Cook's Thesaurus - Beans for further explanation) but the one I know them as is Roman (aka Roma) Beans (at least according to Goya). So that's what I went with. They're basically a pinkish bean with a stripe.
The second difference between Marcella's version and mine, she uses pork rib meats (and I was never quite clear what I was supposed to do with those ribs once I completed the soup - I nibbled on one, Fala enjoyed some meat off one of the others), while I use some ground Italian sausage (turkey usually), as a base.
Other than that it's pretty similar to the soups I've made - a bit of a soffrito (celery, onion and carrot) as a base, along with the aforementioned bones, homemade beef broth, which I actually did as opposed to the canned variety I usually use (hey that reminds me - has anyone posted about making the homemade broth/stock?), and at the very end the pasta. She recommends maltagliati (homemade) or any tubular macaroni (I used elbows because we always have them on hand for mac and cheese). That pasta has to go in at the end (and don't cook it for too long afterward), because it just soaks up that broth like a sponge. For leftovers the next day, I added a bit more broth to thin it out but I'd also like to note that the Italian Club Ladies Auxilliary serves theirs almost like a stew at the Carnivale (no broth in site after those macaroni have been sitting in those crockpots all day long).
Lastly, how did it taste? Pretty darn good - because of that homemade broth, it definitely had a richer flavor than my version with canned broth. Though I do have to admit, I did miss my bit of sausage in there. I'll make it again, though a bit of a lighter version (skip the butter at the end next time) as I'm watching my girlish figure and unfortunately, it's getting easier and easier to watch.
Now, here's where you're going to kill me as the sub. I had a bit of a camera misfortune, and my shots (which probably weren't any good anyway), got erased. And yes, while I'd like to blame it on one of my kids or my husband it was my stupidity that led to their destruction (I'll probably never be invited back to cook again). But ... I did remember I had some left over cranberry beans that I photographed for y'all, just so I'd at least have one shot, and you would all know what they look like.