The Grown-Up Bean with Bacon

When I was in grade school, my little sister and I would walk home for lunch every day. Mom would be there with sandwiches and in the colder weather, soup. I remember watching The Little Rascals on TV while we ate. Now that I think of it, I am uncertain how in the world we walked to and from the school, ate, and watched TV, but somehow we did it. Mom drove us back and forth in the cold weather, but still it seems like we packed a lot into our lunch hour.

One of my favorite soups, of course it was the famous red-labeled Campbell’s, was Bean with Bacon. No, I would never turn down a bowl of Chicken and Noodle, but if I was asked what flavor, I would always ask for Bean with Bacon.

Needless to say, my pallette is more discerning today, but I promise you if you liked that soup, you will love Pasta Fagioli. I ran across this recipe 4 or 5 years ago after seeing Cristina Ferrare on the Oprah show and marveled at how good it was and happily reminded me of my childhood. You’ll also be happy at how fast and easy it is to assemble any cold night of the week with pantry items.

Here are my notes on how I make it:

  • Only used half as much pasta and subbed Orriechette because bow-tie is just too giant for a soup spoon, imho. Orzo would work well too.
  • This needs to be eaten the day you make it; if you save it over, the pasta sucks up all the broth and it isn’t soup anymore.
  • I almost never have tomato paste around, or I don’t want to open the can for just two Tablespoons. I found out that ketchup actually works well, don’t judge me! You might want to adjust seasoning because this adds some sweet, but still, in a pinch go ahead and try it.
  • Don’t grate the Parmesan, SHAVE IT. This makes a tremendous and tasty difference.
  • I also never have prosciutto in the fridge. Bacon is fine.
  • Great White Northern beans work, don’t worry about scrounging for Cannellini. They are virtually the same.
  • This is when I started realizing how great your soup can be with toppings. The olive oil is fantastic. As is the fresh basil if you have it and of course the shaved Parmesan. Not a fan of balsamic vinegar, but if you are, go for it too. These really elevate the eating of the soup, I think.

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