When Paul and I were first married, I knew very little about cooking. I could make a few basic things, but I was always genuinely surprised when something I made tasted good. I remember having this one really simple roast chicken recipe that I thought was such an incredibly complex-tasting, restaurant-quality dish that I would serve it for dinner at least once a week. Sometimes more. I'm pretty sure everyone we had over for dinner in our tiny little apartment during that first year ate that dish along with a brownie a la mode for dessert (my fancy newlywed dessert before I learned how to bake). Things have changed so much since then and I have learned so much about food, nutrition, cooking, and serving. The best part is that my cooking tastes, preferences, and style will continue to evolve and change and grow since there will always be something to learn - a new ingredient to taste, recipe to try, or technique to employ.
|No solids for you yet. Obviously, it's not negatively affecting her weight!|
However, while that first favorite chicken recipe of mine has long since been shoved to the back of the recipe file, there are some simple dishes from those first few precious months of marriage that continue to pop up regularly in our weekly menu. This recipe for Pasta Fagioli is one of those dishes. I made this soup a few months after marrying Paul and I remember being so proud of myself when I did. It tasted so delicious - very reminiscent of my favorite Olive Garden soup, only made better, in my humble opinion, by the addition of just a tiny bit of one hot Italian sausage. Served with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan and some good ciabatta for soaking up the broth, this was one of Paul's favorite dishes back in the day. And, despite all the other dishes I have made over the years, he still thinks it is a pretty delicious meal. It is a fairly nutritious soup and I appreciate how easy it is to prepare on a busy weeknight. The kids love it too although they were skeptical at first. When I started calling it "Pizza Soup", suddenly they were all about it. Funny how that works.
adapted from Allrecipes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 - 1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
2 stalks celery, chopped (I usually omit because Paul hates celery)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes salt to taste
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, with liquid
Heat olive oil and sausage in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the sausage until browned, breaking it up into small pieces with the back of a wooden spoon. Drain if desired, and then add the sausage back to pot (keep the heat on medium). Add the onion and celery and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, parsley, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and cook until very fragrant, about 1 minute more. Stir in the chicken broth, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, cover loosely, and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes.
Add the pasta and cook 10 minutes, until pasta is just tender.
Add the undrained beans and heat through. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and lots of bread on the side.