Just over a year ago my mom traveled to Italy for the first time. It was a dream trip for her and such a special opportunity to travel with friends and extended family to the country so important to her heritage.
Lucky for myself, who didn’t get to join her, she brought back some awesome gifts! Of this things she bought back were soup bases with dried beans, pastas, and herbs. She let my sisters and I each choose one and I decided to go with the pasta e fagioli, which literally means pasta and beans.
The base was simple, dried beans, onion, garlic, and herbs, and the idea was to add in your own pancetta, tomato, broth, and pasta. The soup took a while to cook, dried beans aren’t the most efficient, but was so worth the wait. It was rich and comforting and a perfectly cozy Sunday night supper, with bread of course.
While recently shopping at the farmers market I came across She’s Pesto, a delicious and fresh pesto made right here in Charlotte. After making the pesto with only the best ingredients, and let’s be honest I am a pesto snob (no surprise I’m sure!), including extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, and parmesan cheese, the pesto is frozen into cubes that are about 2 tablespoons each or so.
The cubes are perfect for throwing into a recipe like this soup, or for serving with a protein, tossed with pasta, or thawed for bread dipping. I really love the frozen cubes so that I could have a pop of freshness in my fall and winter meals.
As soon as I started to think about what to make with the pesto I was reminded of my pasta e fagioli from last year. While slightly less traditional, the addition of pesto completely takes this soup up a notch.
I also decided to use canned beans with fresh garlic and onions to shorten the cooking process and orchiette pasta because they’re my all time favorite. I like to make a big pot of the soup to enjoy throughout the week (or a couple of days if you love this soup as much as my husband does!). Dish it out and serve it with an extra dollop of pesto and/or some fresh parmesan. To make a vegetarian version, simply omit the pancetta and cook the vegetables in olive oil.
You can’t go wrong with this traditional Italian soup. Talk about comfort food.
This post was sponsored by She’s Pesto. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Mexitalian.
- 4 oz. pancetta, diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 carrots, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 large sprig rosemary (2-3 inches) or ½ T dried rosemary
- 1 t dried oregano
- ½ t black pepper
- ½ t salt
- 6 c vegetable broth
- 1 c dried orchiette pasta*
- 4 c fresh spinach
- ¼ c pesto
- In a large soup pot, add the pancetta and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in the onion and cook an additional 5 minutes until soft.
- Add the garlic and carrots, cook 5 minutes until the carrots are slightly soft.
- Add the rosemary and cannellini beans, stir.
- Add the diced tomatoes, oregano, pepper, salt, and vegetable broth. Stir until well combined.
- Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Bring the soup back up to a boil and stir in the orchiette pasta and cook until al dente, approximately 15 minutes.
- Remove the soup from heat and stir in the spinach and pesto.
- Serve with extra pesto and/or parmesan cheese. I also like a squeeze of lemon.
If you eat this with some crusty Italian bread I certainly wouldn’t judge.