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One of the soups I grew up on was pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans). My Italian grandmother (my nonna) used to make it regularly and it was always one of my favourites. So was she. This soup even rated a mention in a Dean Martin hit song, “That’s Amore.” Remember the line, “When the stars make you drool, Joost-a like pasta fazool”?

This week’s recipe is a slight variation of one in a favourite old cookbook of mine, La Cucina di Pasquale, by the late Pasquale Carpino, known as the “singing chef.” Carpino entertained his TV audience with a down-to-earth presentation while singing operatic arias. He died in 2005, but one of his shows, Pasquale’s Kitchen Express, is in re-runs on OMNI-1, weekdays at noon.

Now, let’s get cooking!

Pasta e Fagiole (sometimes known as Pasta Fazool or Pasta Fazoo)

Ingredients

2 oz. olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 slices bacon or pancetta, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

pinch chili pepper

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

8 cups chicken stock

1 19-oz. can romano beans

1-1⁄2 cups small soup shells, elbows or ditali pasta

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1⁄4 cup Romano cheese, grated

Heat the oil in a soup pot and sauté the onions, garlic, bacon, salt and pepper and chili pepper about five minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and then add the chicken stock and Romano beans. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Cook and drain the soup shells. Add to the soup. Simmer another 10 minutes. Serve garnished with parsley and grated cheese on top. Serves four to eight.

At our house we often make a meal out of a large pot of pasta e fagioli, a loaf of Italian bread and a salad.

Milk Calendar

The 2010 Milk Calendar arrived recently, and I immediately tried out a couple of recipes which I can recommend. Presto pizza mia on the March page is made with a crust that features whole wheat flour combined with all-purpose flour, and baking powder instead of yeast. It yields a tasty, light crust. On the inside cover, you’ll find a great recipe for good grains fruit cookies, also made with whole wheat flour, and they’re good! Haven’t tried the morning glory breakfast bars on the inside cover, yet, but I will soon. I’ll also be trying the apple cinnamon pancakes on the February page.

Now, let’s get cooking!

tombutkovich@cogeco.ca

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