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Pasta fagioli, or a soup made with pasta and beans, is a staple for most Italian families. The beauty of this soup is how each family and often, each family member, has their own versions. Variations include using pork, sausage, chicken broth, and different types of beans, such as Navy or Cannellini beans. Unfortunately, one of the main ingredients is often the most disliked by small children- the beans.
Growing up, my sister and I would always ask my grandma to make it without the beans. She would often oblige (unless my uncle was there). Her version of the soup for us was very simple but comforting- a thin tomato broth, ditalini pasta, and lightly seasoned with garlic and Italian herbs. My mother’s version is very similar, but has more of a tomato flavor, and uses very little herbs. They referred to their child-friendly versions as “Ditalini” and it was often made at least weekly.
While I still enjoy my mom’s version on occasions, even if her recipe instructions are slightly vague, “fill the tomato sauce cans about 3/4 of the way with water, three times.” I wanted to create a version for my picky daughter that was just as delicious, but included the dreaded beans and of course, vegetables.
This version of Pasta Fagioli is packed full of vitamins and nutrients from the vegetables, Papa Vince tomato sauce and EVOO, as well as creating a complete protein from the combination of the beans and pasta. Quick and easy to make for a healthy weeknight dinner, it comes together in less then a half hour.
The mashed beans and finely chopped vegetables hide perfectly in the soup, thickening it slightly, but never giving away their true identities. My toddler proclaimed, after a few spoonfuls, “You have the right ingredients this time, Mom!” If only she knew…
Beautiful colors and inviting flavors will make this hearty side dish a keeper in your recipe box.