musings about food, travel, creativity and life

Go-To Feel-Good Food

It’s that time of year…and it’s that kind of year…when we all can use comfort and a little bit of joy. I notice that I’m spending even more time than “normal” hugging my coffee mug in the morning and looking through my family cookbook for familiar recipes that remind me of good times, special people and love.

As the days get shorter, soup seems to be one of my go-to comfort foods. I’ve already shared my family recipe for Minestrone (February 16, 2019 post) and here I offer another family favorite–Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans). I made it this week and I changed up the second night’s servings by adding cooked carrots, peas and spinach toward the end of the reheat and loved the hit of color the veggies provided.

I would love to hear what some of your favorite go-to, feel-good dishes or recipes are. Savory or sweet. I have a fantasy of “someday” doing a cookbook with delicious recipes from friends and family. Who knows…this could be the virtual beginning …


Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Bean Soup)

Serves 4 as an entrée

1 pound dry cranberry beans or red kidney beans (cleaned and soaked over night, or for seven hours, then drained)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 potato, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon rosemary

1 teaspoon oregano

3 tablespoons tomato paste

Freshly ground pepper, a hearty amount

4 bite-sized pieces of Parmesan rind*

1 piece Kombu, broken up (optional)**

Enough liquid to cover the beans plus one inch (I use water with two small vegetarian bouillon cubes that have been dissolved in hot water)


l/4 pound spaghetti, broken into thirds

Grated Parmesan cheese


In a large stock pot, on medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until translucent. (As a variation and for a punchier taste, you can add some chopped pancetta while sautéing the onion and garlic.) Add the beans, potato, rosemary, oregano, tomato paste, pepper and Parmesan rind. (**Kombu, an optional addition, softens the beans and makes them more digestible. It’s not very Italian, but it seems to work.)

Cover the beans with water or bouillon broth, bring to a boil, then cook for one to two hours until the beans are tender. (If all the water gets absorbed, add some additional boiling water or vegetarian broth. If any foam forms on the top of the soup, skim off and discard. Take out and discard the Kombu when the beans are cooked.) For a thicker soup, puree a third of the soup and add back to the whole.

When the soup is just about finished, add salt and pasta  and cook until al dente.

Dish up the soup, garnished with Parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper. *Remind people to be on the lookout for a piece of Parmesan rind!

Buon Appetito!







12 thoughts on “Go-To Feel-Good Food”

  • Ha! I just passed your recipe on to Bob the chef. We’ll let you know how it comes out! It sounds delicious and comforting!!

    • I like this passing-it-on approach! Please do let the chef know that he should go at-it with the best of his Italian instincts re seasoning, etc. As if he needs to know that😉 I found myself adding more salt than “normal” (what’s “normal?”) and of course piling on that Parmesan cheese. I hope you enjoy it if indeed he makes it. Sending love to you both❤️

  • Yum! Let the soup begin. I made traditional turkey soup, which turned out nourishing and rich. I had tucked away your minestrone soup recipe but shall go to this one first. ‘‘Tis the season indeed. Cheers to you! I did make a pear Gallettt with winter pears from the old trees here at Greenwood acre. Delish! Love and Delight to all.

    • Hope she enjoys it, Lenore. Wish we were going to be in your territory this
      holiday, but it looks like home is the place to be. Have a lovely holiday🎄❤️

  • We’ve eaten your pasta e fagioli and can vouch for its deliciousness! Our favorite comfort food is Pat’s chicken stew with dumplings. It always “hits the spot”.

  • As always, your recipes look so delicious!
    I’ve noticed recently that my go-to comfort food is for breakfast, but it can be for lunch or dinner, as well. It’s yellow grits with cheese and a fried egg. I’m from the South, so grits was always a part of a hot breakfast at my house. Instead of the traditional white grits I use Bob’s Red Mill Yellow Corn Grits (aka Polenta) and cook the grits per the directions on the package. After serving hot in a bowl, I add butter and salt and pepper to taste, a good sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese, and a fried egg on top to add protein. It’s a comfort dish in a bowl that will stick to your ribs and put a smile on your face!
    I’m sending you and John warm hugs as we experience these longer dark nights when seeds are dreaming of spring and new life. May we all plant our seeds of hope deep and take this time to dream sweet dreams.
    Love and light – Peggy

    • Your comfort food sounds wonderful! And I like starting out the morning with comfort. Why not?!
      We’re going to fix this soon and will toast you, with coffee, of course, since it’ll be in the morning!
      And I love what you said about how we can use these long, dark nights to dream and plant seeds for the future. May it be so. Sending you and your girls much love and wishes for nurturing holidays💚❤️

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