Pasta e Fagioli
This is a delicious soup and I usually serve it Christmas Eve with salad and nice crusty french bread.
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped onion
3 ounces pancetta, chopped (I use bacon, its much cheaper to buy.)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
5 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup elbow macaroni
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
(I also add 1 14 1/2oz. can of diced tomatoes)
Wrap the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and secure closed with kitchen twine. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, pancetta, and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, beans, and sachet of herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the sachet. Puree 1 cup of the bean mixture in a blender until smooth*. Before putting the puree back into the soup, add the macaroni and boil with the lid on until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Return the puree to the remaining soup in the saucepan and stir well. Season the soup with ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with some Parmesan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil just before serving.
*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.
This recipe is by Giada De Laurentiis and can also be found here.
I've made this twice in the last week to take to 2 Christmas brunches at bible study and MOPs. It smells like pizza baking in the oven! It can be assembled ahead and baked at the last minute, stratas make great brunch entrées. It also can be served at lunch or dinner.
Yield: Makes 8 servings
1 loaf (1 lb.) crusty, Italian-style bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 ounces thick-sliced prosciutto or ham, diced
1/4 cup chopped canned roasted red peppers
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup pitted black olives, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
6 large eggs
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning blend
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons drained capers
1. Spread half the bread cubes level in a lightly oiled 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Top evenly with prosciutto, peppers, green onions, and parmesan cheese. Spread remaining bread cubes level on top, followed by tomatoes, olives, and mozzarella.
2. In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to blend. Pour over layered ingredients. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or up to one day.
3. Bake in a 325° regular or convection oven until center of strata is set and top is lightly browned, 40 to 50 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with parsley and capers. Let stand 10 minutes, then cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This recipe came from Sunset magazine, which you can also find the recipe here.