Vegetarian but Good Pasta e Fagioli
Updated: Jun 23, 2019
Why are all my close friends are betraying me?? Oh wait, I mean becoming vegetarian. It's fine. It's really fine, but it does mean I have to get more creative when cooking for them, because I am not interested in compromising quality or freshness for flavor. Based off of the Pasta e Fagioli recipe from Once Upon a Chef by the lovely Jenn Segal, this recipe has a few adaptations to make it vegetarian. In addition to being an award-winning cookbook author and food blogger (www.onceuponachef.com), Jenn Segal has been a gracious and patient mentor to me.
Gluten-free adaptation: swap pasta for quick cooking rice. I would not recommend gluten-free pasta for this recipe, as it may not hold up in the broth.
Equipment suggestions: large stock pot or dutch-oven pot; a blender, immersion or normal
Makes 4 generous portions; I recommend making the whole batch and freezing what you don't finish.
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, in small dice
2 celery stalks, in small dice
3 large carrots, in small dice
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
6-8 cups vegetable stock (or chicken if vegetarian doesn't matter to you)
~12 oz (1 small can) canned diced tomatoes, plain or fire roasted
~30 oz (2 small cans) canned cannellini beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup French green lentils (or brown), rinsed
1 cup short dried pasta, such as orecchiette or maccheroni
Extra quick-cooking vegetables such as kale and frozen peas (optional)
Rind of parmigiano reggiano cheese (optional)
Parmigiano reggiano cheese and fresh cracked black pepper, for serving
Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion, celery, and carrot. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cook around 10 minutes, stirring often, until very soft with some color. Add the garlic and cook a couple more minutes until softened and no longer raw.
Add the wine, turn up the heat, and add 6 cups of stock (one and a half 1 qt. boxes), the can of tomatoes, the beans, and the lentils. If you have the rind of parmigiano reggiano, add it here to impart extra flavor. Simmer about 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
Add around a cup of soup to a blender; purée, and set aside. This will help thicken the soup at the end.
Add the dry pasta to the soup and simmer 8-10 minutes to cook. Add back the reserved puréed soup; stir. If using, add the extra vegetables and let warm through. Remove the parmigiano reggiano rind if used, taste for salt, and use remaining stock to adjust thickness of the broth if necessary.
Serve topped with generous gratings of parmigiano reggiano cheese and cracked black pepper.
Jeremy Scheck is the founder and editor-in-chief of Collegetown Kitchen and After School Bakery. He is a student at Cornell University in the class of 2022 studying Spanish, Italian, and nutrition. Aproveche, buon appetito and bon appétit!