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September 10, 2014

Here we are in September.  My kids say the first day of school is really the end of summer, but it’s just not true.  The sun is still strong and high, and Alistair has worn shorts to school every day so far.

Still, there’s a certain crispness to the morning air, and while I’m not ready for pumpkin spice anything*, I am willing to begin considering the comfort foods of autumn.

Yesterday I made pasta e fagioli (it’s my all-time favorite meal) and posted a photo of my dinner on Facebook, and a few people asked for the recipe.  Which means that it probably should be posted here too.  So here you go.

Pasta e Fagioli

4 tablespoons olive oil
diced pancetta – four slices if you have slices, or one package of the diced stuff they sell in the imported meats section of the grocery store
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, or a few shakes of dried rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme, or a few shakes of the dried stuff
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, or a few good scoops of the minced stuff in the jar
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (or great northern beans if that’s all you can find), drained
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 box ditalini pasta
salt and pepper

(Optional, but awesome:  the heel of a piece of salty cheese – Parmesan, Romano, or Pecorino.  You only need an inch or so, but it makes all the difference)

for the table:
grated Parmesan, Romano, or Pecorino cheese
Italian or Scali bread

1.  In a big pot over medium high heat, heat the olive oil, then add the pancetta.
2.  Once the pancetta is brown and your kitchen smells like heaven, add the the herbs, vegetables and garlic.  Add salt and pepper, and let it go for a few minutes, until the onions start to soften up.
3.  Add the beans and the stock, and turn the heat up to high.  (If you have the heel of cheese, put it in now.)
4.  Once the soup is at a rapid boil, add the pasta.  Cover the pot, lower the heat to medium, and let it go until the pasta is cooked – about 8 minutes or so.  If you have used fresh herbs, pull the stems out (all the leaves have fallen off).  If you had the cheese, pull that out now too.
5.  Turn the heat off and let the pot sit for a few minutes before lading into bowls.

Boom – done.


* I am not a fan of the (artificial) flavor of pumpkin spice.  Not in beer, not in coffee, not in muffins.  I like pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup, and that’s about it.

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