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!