In Italian its pasta e fagioli – that means “pasta and beans.” Some people call it pasta fazool. Both pronunciations are correct. In the Neapolitan dialect its pasta e fasule, often spelled pasta fazool in America.
In a large pot, cook the trinity in oil. When the vegetables are soft, add the beans and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered for 2 hours.
Add salt and pepper, the cherry tomatoes, 2 more cups of water, and the pasta. If necessary, add more water as the pasta cooks. When the pasta is almost done, throw in a couple of hands full of arugula or spinach. I’m using a mix of both. When the greens whilt, it’s ready to serve.
I think it’s tastier reheated the next day. Just add some water to the pot and stir over a low flame.
A pound of beans and a pound of pasta can rally grow as they cook. You might to cut those 2 ingredients in half.
Escarole and potato soup – sometimes my mother made it with soprasade and other times with beans. You can try it with both. That one clove of garlic was my idea, not my mother’s.
Olive oil for frying
½ lb. soprasade cut into thin slices
1 chopped onion
1 minced garlic clove
2 pealed potatoes cut into ½ inch pieces
6 cups coarsely chopped escarole
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 diced plum tomatoes
Salt and black pepper to taste
Put the soprasade in a pot with some oil and cook for a few minutes – don’t brown. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent and soft. Add the garlic and potatoes. Add oil if yuou need it. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the washed escarole. It may seem to overflow the pot but add ½ cup of water, cover and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes until it wilts. Stir until all ingredients are well mixed.
Add the tomatoes, the stock, and vinegar. Mix thoroughly and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Check for seasoning and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.
My doctor says everyone should eat more beans and greens and less red meat. I’m trying, so here’s another bean and something recipe – Shrimp and Bean Soup. This one is from Evelyn. She adapted it from an old family recipe. You can use any kind of dried beans you like. I’m using Goya’s habichuelas blancas (small white beans).
To start – Pick through the beans and rinse them. Put them in a pot with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil and turn off heat. Let them sit for one hour. Or you can let them stand in 4 cups of cold water overnight.
In the meantime – Hear some oil in a large pot. Cook the trinity until it’s soft, about 10 minutes. Add 6 cups of water, the beans, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours or until the beans are tender.
Remove a cup of beans and puree them in a blender or food processor and return them to the pot to thicken the soup. Add the Worcestershire sauce. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, add water. Put the shrimp in the pot, stir and cook for 5 – 8 minutes until done. Serve in individual bowls with a sprinkling of olive oil.
Farro’s been cultivated since before recorded history. Many of the grains we’re familiar with today are descended from farro. It was regularly eaten on the Italian peninsula when Rome ruled the Mediterranean. It is still common throughout Italy today. Here’s an old Salerno recipe.
Remove the bones and skin and cut thigh meat into small bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and black pepper and brown the chicken in the oil and remove. If there’s too much fat left from browning the chicken, drain the excess.
Sauté celery low heat until soft then add oregano and sliced garlic and cook briefly. Add stock from drained, cooked farro, bring to a boil and deglaze the pot. Add the cooked farro, return chicken and bring to a boil. Add hot water to keep a soupy consistency. Simmer for another 10 minutes covered. Check for seasoning.
What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking – on Amazon
Mrs. Fisher’s Fish Chowder
I came across this recipe for fish chowder while browsing through an old cookbook on line. The book’s title is What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking. It was published in 1881 and written by Mrs. Abby Fisher. Mrs. Fisher was a former slave and her cookbook is believed to be the first ever written by an African-American.
The fish chowder recipe appealed to me. I decided to try to make it although Mrs. Fisher doesn’t give very precise instructions, ingredient amounts, or cooking times. Onion, butter, cayenne, and salt were easy but I had to Google ‘sea cracker’ and eventually found a modern equivalent. She doesn’t say what kind of fish so my choice was hake, an inexpensive white fish For ‘Irish potatoes’ I used Idaho and instead of ‘salt pork’ my substitute was pancetta. I added some olive oil and paprika. I think Mrs. Fisher wrote this book for people who knew how to cook. so she was able to make some assumptions. This recipe worked for me and I’ll definitely make it again.
1/4 lb. pancetta cut in one inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 & 1/2 lbs. fish cut into one inch pieces
1 large, peeled and cubed Idaho potatoes
3 ground Pilot Bread Crackers
3 pats of butter
1/4 tsp . cayenne
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
salt to taste
Cook the pancetta on a low heat until it ‘s brown and the fat rendered. Then remove it from the pot.
Also on low heat, in the same pot, lightly brown the onions and removed them.
As Mrs. Fisher says, “Having all now prepared,” add 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil to prevent sticking to the rendered pancetta fat if the pot appears to be too dry, then put in the fish. Next add the pancetta. Then a layer of potatoes and then the onions with the sprinkled cracker crumbs. Dot the butter on top of that, sprinkle the cayenne and paprika and that’s it. Cayenne is pretty spicy so be careful how much you use.
Add 2 cups of water, cover the pot and simmer for one hour on a low heat – don’t stir it and disturb the layers. Check it occasionally and add water if it starts to dry out. Use a ladle when you serve it and be sure to get each layer.
Fry the garlic in oil. Add the tomatoes and cook until slightly soft.
Add the broth, bay leaf, and the pasta. Keep adding heated water, maybe 2 or 3 cups, to keep a soupy consistency. When the pasta is almost done, add the peas, stir and cook for a few minutes. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.
A Meat Stall with the Holy Family Giving Alms – Pieter Aertsen
Red Wine Beef Soup
This soup is dark, hardy and meaty. Cotes du Rhone is always recommended for meat soups and stews. It doesn’t have to be expensive but should be good enough to drink.
Preheat oven to 350°. Season meat with salt and black pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown and transfer to a plate. Pour off all the drippings from pot and return 3 tablespoons to the pot and use 3 for the roux.
In separate pot add 3-4 tbsps. drippings and 3 tbsps. flour to make the roux. If it’s too dry add some more drippings or wine.
Addtrinityand oregano to Dutch oven and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until lightly browned. Then add the tomato paste and blend. Add the roux and stir until well combined. Stir in wine and blend, then return the meat with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil.
Add all herbs and garlic to pot. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.
Cook until ribs are tender, about 1 hour 45 min. Transfer ribs to a platter and remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones.
Strain sauce from pot or remove herbs, garlic, etc. with a spider and discard.
Add 8 cups of water to the pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, cook until al dente and serve.
This is good served with a little prepared horse radish or parmigiana cheese or both.
Navajo Corn Soup (with a twist) This recipe calls for salt pork. I replaced it with pancetta.
Cut the pork into bite sized pieces, season and brown it with the pancetta. Do this in batches so the meat browns and doesn’t steam. If there are any bones, brown then too. When done, remove the meat and sauté the onion, add peppers, garlic & oregano and cook until softened.
Return meat to pot. Add stock and simmer covered for 1 hour. Remove any bones, taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in corn a few minutes before serving.
If you’re using dried whole corn start with 1 and 1/2 cups. Wash it thoroughly, soak overnight, drain when ready to use. Boil dried corn until tender – about 3 and 1/2 hours in 6 cups water.
Here’s another home style dish that you don’t see on a restaurant menu. Our mother served soup or some type of minestra for dinner every evening along with a second course. Monday pasta patate, Tuesday pasta piselli, Wednesday pasta lenticchie, etc.
Pasta Lenticchie ala Piccola Nicolina
Pick over the lentils and rinse them in a scolo pasta (colander). Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart pot and add the carrots, garlic and celery. Sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the rinsed lentils, salt and pepper and stir. Add enough water to cover plus an inch and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until lentils are tender (about 40 minutes). Add the ditalini or broken spaghetti and cook for 8 minutes.
Note: always taste as you are cooking. Lentils and broken pasta vary in size therefore the cooking time may vary.
Green pepperonciniinfused oil is good to drizzle on top of each serving. Please do not sprinkle cheese on this.