Italian Soup

by Fresh and Frugal

Another recipe for which I must thank Rachel. Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. How do you do it? The weather has been horrendous this week here, only to give way to a breezy 65- or 70-something weekend, for which I will disappointingly be absent. The rain has been absolutely soaking, somehow humid and warm instead of the refreshing and crisp, as it ought to be in an ideal autumn. What’s with that?!

Either way, as day gives way to night, the apartment gets a little chilly and I can’t help but pull a blanket up higher around my shoulders and snuggle in, even if I am writing for school and not reading by a roaring, crackling fire. What I wouldn’t give for a fireplace sometimes. You know, I was thinking — why don’t they make channels that are images (like a fish aquarium, or roaring fire) for your television the same way they have those zillion music channels on cable. I would definitely leave the fireplace channel on!

But back to food. Oh, food. I had to sort of cut corners with this recipe, soaking lima beans overnight and all day before throwing them into the mix, using Israeli couscous instead of ditallini or orzo or any other sort of authentically Italian pasta.  It still turned out so well, though! After spending a few long hours infront of the computer screen with a few, sparse trips into the kitchen to chop and add a little something else, one heaping bowl of bean and noodle soup was exactly what I needed. Sure, it’s not for the calorie-conscious, but it still feels light, lovely, and is absolutely brimming with taste. Oh, Rachel. Rachel, Rachel, Rachel.

Italian Soup

1 bag of soaked beans

2 carrots, chopped

5 celery stalks, leaves included, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat of your knife

2 rosemary sprigs

1 small chili, chopped

1 parmesan rind

1 liter water

2 glugs olive oil (or more)

1-2 c dry pasta (depending on how watery you want your soup)

Prepare your beans. Follow the instructions that came with the beans, but cut 30 minutes off the cooking time. Set them aside when they’re nearly-ready and start the rest of the process.

Heat a large pot on the stove. Drop in the olive oil, onions, and garlic, and cook them until the onions are clear.

Add the carrots, celery, rosemary and chili, and stir to coat them in the oil. Let cook 10 minutes.

Add the beans, stir to coat them in the oil too. Let cook another 10 minutes, stirring often.

Pour in the water and drop in the parmesan rind. Bring the soup to a boil and then let it simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Remove the parmesan rinds and the rosemary, and then put about half of the mixture through a food mill, or blender. I literally ladled half of mine into a blender, blended until pretty smooth, and then poured it back in.

Regroup: all the soup back into the same pot. Add a good amount of salt and pepper, then mix in the pasta. Depending on whether you want more of a soup or stew, you may want to add more water. I didn’t. As Rachel says, “stop cooking once the pasta is tender but firm to the bite.”

Finally, let the soup rest for 10 minutes or so, then serve.

Note: this is absolutely fantastic, especially with crusty bread.