Ah to be three again, when the absolute worst thing that could go wrong in a day is to not be given free reign with your Halloween candy basket, or maybe the dog takes off with your Buzz Lightyear or you have to have your hair washed. Granted these might be earth shattering events for at least five minutes, but there are no deadlines, no critics. No death and taxes.
And dinner just appears. We all needed something warm and comforting, cheap, stress-free and relatively healthy. I so could have justified ordering pizza today, but I think the fast food remorse would have been too much on top of it all.
I decided to make pasta e fagioli (pasta fazool). My plan was to also put on Moonstruck, because it takes place during this bare, grey time of year and because Cher and Nicolas Cage so brilliantly love and completely irritate each other at the same time. And it’s so passionate and sad and hopeful, and I love Olympia Dukakis and her kitchen.
So we made a pot of pasta fazool and tried to teach W to sing That’s Amore and came up with a new way to keep him at the dinner table until we were all finished – light a row of tealights in the middle of the table for him to blow out when dinner is over. (Of course he likes to sing “happy birthday” before he does, having witnessed this ritual many times this month.)
If you have a couple slices of bacon or pancetta around all the better; chop and sauté them first, then remove it from the pan to cook the onion and other veg. Add it back to the soup at the very end.
What you need: onion; garlic; carrot; celery; broth; canned beans; canned tomatoes; any small shaped pasta
Chop a small onion and clove of garlic; sauté in a little oil over medium heat until soft. Add a chopped celery rib and chopped carrot and cook for a few more minutes.
Add 2 cups of chicken, beef or vegetable stock and a 14 oz. (398 mL) can diced, whole, stewed or crushed tomatoes. Mash half of a 14 oz. (398 mL) can of beans with a fork and add them along with the rest of the beans. If you have it, add a pinch of dried oregano and/or a sprig of fresh rosemary. Bring to a simmer and add 1/2 cup dry pasta; cook for 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender. If the soup is too thick, add a little extra stock, more tomatoes or water.
Season with salt and pepper and serve hot, preferably with grated Parmesan.