Chosen Bites: Italy does it

Wind up the High Holidays with a relaxed and laid-back Italian classic pasta dish.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans) 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans) 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)6 servings
This Italian classic soup of pasta and beans is a great example of how you can make a simple delicious meal out of pantry staples. Using the right bean for this dish is essential – I prefer Borlotti beans, which have a firm texture and sweet nutty flavor that pairs well with the soft pasta. However, if you cannot find Borlotti beans, cranberry beans also work well.
I wrote this recipe for the slow cooker. You can easily make the soup stovetop, but as we wind up the High Holidays, I think we all deserve a break and nothing says relaxed and laid-back like a warm and comforting hearty soup made in the slow cooker.
1 ½ cups Borlotti beans or cranberry beans, soaked overnightOlive oil1 pound ground beef1 large Spanish onion, peeled and chopped3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely3 tablespoons of tomato paste1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes and their juices, crushed with your hands1 teaspoon dried oregano6 sprigs of thyme1 cup of small shell pasta or other small shape6 cups chicken broth Extra virgin olive oil for garnishSuggested Garnishes: Chopped herbs: flat leaf parsley, oregano, thyme, basilSalt and pepper
Pre-heat the slow cooker on LOW
1. Drain and rinse the beans. Place the beans into the insert for the slow cooker.
2. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Brown the meat. Transfer the meat to the insert for the slow cooker.
3. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat out of the sauté pan. Add the onion to the sauté pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly colored and soft (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic to the pan and continue cooking for 3 more minutes.
4. Add the remaining ingredients except for the extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs. Stir to combine, cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours until the beans are tender.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle each bowl of soup with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with fresh herbs.