With nippier temperatures and the official end of summer in sight (sigh), it’s time to trade in that bowl of heaping heirloom tomato gazpacho for a warm, nourishing bowl of soup. This fabulous recipe from the Natural Gourmet Institute, a health-supportive culinary school in New York City, spotlights whole-wheat pasta and beans, doling out lots of fiber and protein, which helps you feel full longer. Sneak in even more nutrients by stirring in frozen, dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, or swiss chard.
Pasta e fagiole, a classic Italian dish that means “pasta and beans” (though we’re guessing you figured out what the “pasta” part meant), gets its base from a traditional combination of onions, carrots, and celery — known as mirepoix — made up of 50% onions, 25% carrots, and 25% celery (It makes the foundation for a great veggie stock as well). Don’t have Cannellini beans on hand? Try Great Northern beans instead. Cooking for a bean-adverse crew? Swap the beans for peas, which provide a similar textural element and offer a hearty dose of protein.
And yes, we know soup like this (or just about any soup) is just begging for a hunk of crusty French bread, but try pairing it with a multigrain loaf or a slice of whole-wheat toast (the slight crunch will add a nice contrast) for a healthier pairing.
Enjoy this guilt-free comfort food, perfect for chilly weeknights or a light lunch at the office. Low-calorie soups like this are also a great way to start heavier meals. Add a sprinkling of red chili pepper flakes for heat. Garnish with fresh herbs, like parsley or basil, for a deeper flavor. Or add a wedge of lemon for a hit of acidity.
Pasta e Fagiole Soup
(Yield: 6 servings)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, small dice (about 2 cups)
- 1 medium carrot, small dice (about 1 cup)
- 3 stalks celery, small dice (about 1 cup)
- 4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes (3 cups pureed)
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 15-ounce can Cannellini beans
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1½ cups whole-wheat elbow or Ditalini pasta
Directions: In a two-gallon pot, heat the oil over a moderate flame. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 3 more minutes.
Add tomato puree, stock, and Cannellini beans to the pot, and bring to a simmer. Add bay leaves, thyme, salt, and black pepper, stirring to incorporate. Simmer 15 more minutes, then add the pasta, stirring frequently to cook evenly. Continue to cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Remove bay leaves.
Serve with optional grated Parmigiano Reggiano and torn basil leaves.
For more great recipes, check out The Natural Gourmet Institute blog here.