Here is one of 42 recipes in my healthy lifestyle book, The Advanced Mediterranean Diet: Lose Weight, FeelÂ Better, Live Longer.Â Pasta e fagioli (pasta andÂ beans)Â is a traditional Italian peasant dish.Â My inspiration was theÂ soupÂ at The OliveÂ Garden restaurant.Â My wife and I experimented quite a bit before settling on this composition.Â We hope you enjoy it.Â Â Â Â Â
Pasta e Fagioli
4 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1Â½Â cup chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
1 cup chopped red onion
3 carrots, large, julienned, 1Â½ inch-long strips
12 oz bulk sweet Italian sausage (or use link Italian
sausage after removal of the casing). Italian
sausage is fatty: 60â€“75 percent of calories are
from fat. Buy as lean as you can.
3 15-oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
(alternatively, use white, navy, or great northern
1 15-oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
5 cups Swanson lower sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
Â¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
8 oz (dry weight) ditalini or small shell pasta, whole
wheat if available
Â½Â cup chopped fresh parsley (or 2 tbsp dried parsley)
6 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Â Â Â Â Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot. Choose a pot with a lid because you will cover and simmer this soup later. Add the minced garlic to the hot oil in the pot and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, and sautÃ© over medium heat until the onions are transparent, about five minutes. Stir frequently. Remove this concoction to a bowl or plate. The carrots will finish cooking later.
Add the Italian sausage to the stockpot and cook over medium heat for about eight to 12 minutes until fully done, stirring frequently. As it cooks, break the sausage into small chunks using the edge of a rigid turner. A turner is what you would use to flip pancakes, for example.
To the cooked meat in the stockpot, add the sautÃ©ed concoction, tomatoes, beans, broth, basil, pepper, salt, vinegar, and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for at least 20 minutes. An hour is better. Stir occasionally. Just before serving, add parsley to the pot, and stir once more. If the soup seems too thick, add extra chicken broth or water.
Fill a separate stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to directions on the box. Then drain the pasta. Mix 1/3 cup pasta and 1 cup soup in a serving bowl, then sprinkle with Â½ tbsp grated parmesan cheese. You might enjoy something crunchy with this dish, such as crackers or toast.
Store leftover soup and pasta in separate containers in the refrigerator.Â The soup tastes just as good, or better, over the next few days.Â The pasta gets mushy if you mix it into the soup for storage. Add the pasta to the soup just before you eat.
Servings per batch: 13
Serving size: 1 cup soup and 1/3 cup cooked pasta (290 calories)Â
Steve Parker, M.D., author of The Advanced Mediterranean Diet: Lose Weight, Feel Better, Live LongerÂ Â www.AdvancedMediterraneanDiet.com