Pasta Fagioli-hearty Bean Soup

 

What is dirt cheap anymore? Inexpensive or economical and feeds many, I recall a big pot of bean soup going a long way to feed a big family on a skinny budget. Without a doubt I immediately go to "beans" and a big pot of pasta fagioli for my cheap but wonderful dinner for eight. Beans because I heard how cheap they were in the Great Depression. Today is sausage making day and the soup is on, no time for anything fancy here today. I have to have something ready for the two day process and this is one of my go to recipes. I would love to say that this is a family recipe and it is, mine, I didn't have the advantage of growing up with my Italian relatives so I don’t know what their recipes are and dad was a sailor you know so we spent little time with relatives. When he cooked, he threw in elements of what he remembered on his plate and in his bowl. He was a good cook; I miss his face and his food! Then again I would love to give credit to my mother and her version I do, a slight nod, for adding cabbage and calling it cabbage and beans to serve 7 of us. Over the years to create a more expensive version and fancy things up a bit for a company dinner, I added chicken and/or beef broths, still economical because I make my own stocks and broths and freeze. Select greens and garnished with pesto. My notes later in the recipe mention other additions, not necessarily budget friendly. Great for a casual dinner, serve a fresh loaf of bread and a salad. Most definitely better the second day.

What you will need

2 bags of dried navy beans, picked over and rinsed

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

2 carrots, chopped in large chunks

1 leftover ham bone or 2 ham hocks

12 cups water 2 cups less if using broth

1/2 teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano (or can use fresh herbs)

1 bay leaf

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1 can whole tomatoes and juice, rough chopped

1/2 pound or more of tubetti pasta

1 cheese rind, optional

2 cups beef broth, optional

1 cup chicken broth, optional

2 cups Greens of your choice, Swiss chard, kale, or spinach, sauteed in garlic and olive oil. Add to just about finished soup

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