This Fagioli Soup combines beans, vegetables, kale and macaroni in a light tomato-y broth, cooked slowly to get as much flavor as possible out of the vegetables. It is really flavorful, and makes you rethink ever eating anything premade or in a package. In this recipe, I poured the hot broth over prewashed, cut kale and whole wheat elbow macaroni noodles.
I like to keep the kale separate so that it doesn’t cook and get soft in the soup. It stays crunchy, bright green and fresh in each individual bowl. The other upside is that for leftovers you can reheat the soup until its steaming and, again, pour it over fresh crunchy kale. Then you do not have soggy kale that you inevitably end up eating around for lunch the next day.
This recipe is based on the recipe, Pasta e Fagioli, by Carla Lalli on Bon Appétit. She also has a video on the site on how she makes her recipe, including details like why she chooses ham hock. She’s really fun to watch and super informative.
This recipe here simplifies things a bit, like using cannellini beans from a can rather than dry beans that you need to soak, bacon instead of ham hock, separating out the kale, and (hopefully) simplifying the instructions a little bit.
It really is a fantastic recipe. The light tomato broth is so different from other tomato based recipes and so packed with flavor from the vegetables which are slowly cooked down. You end up feeling full from the beans, pasta, and vegetables, but you don’t leave the table with a heavy feeling in your stomach.
I would recommend adding a parmesan rind to the soup while it is cooking. It is definitely optional, but will add so much flavor - so much so that if I do not have an extra parmesan rind (I don't make a habit of saving these) and this recipe is on the weekly meal list, I will buy a new wedge of parmesan and cut the end off to add to the soup - definitely worth it.
What Makes this Recipe So Good:
- Slowly cooking the vegetables to create a sofrito extracts so much flavor that is added to the broth. Sofrito is a style of preparation where a number of aromatic items such as garlic and vegetables are cut very small and cooked slowly to form the base of a sauce or soup or other dish.
- Adding a parmesan rind adds even more flavor. I like to buy parmesan at Trader Joes. I like that their parmesan is not overwhelming in taste.
- Using pre-washed and pre-cut kale simplifies things. Also adding it to individual bowls prevents it from getting soggy, which means leftovers the next day can still be fresh and delicious.
If you're looking for other soup recipes, here are 3 that I love:
Fagioli Soup with Macaroni and Kale
- 4 slices bacon, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 8 oz baby carrots, thinly sliced (half a 1 lb bag)
- 1 leek, cut in half lengthwise then sliced thinly (white and light green parts only)
- 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 15oz can cannellini beans
- 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 parmesan rind (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 cups low sodium chicken stock
- salt to taste
- 1 package pre-washed baby kale, or pre-cut kale
- 1 lb whole wheat elbow macaroni
- crusty bread for serving
- Bring a large dutch oven to medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until crispy, remove and set aside.
- Add the olive oil, wait for it to warm through, then add the carrots, leek, celery, and garlic to the pot at medium heat and stirring frequently, cook for 5 minutes. Put the top on and cook for 25 minutes, removing the lid every 5 minutes and stirring.
- Add the beans including the liquid in the can, the diced tomatoes, parmesan rind, bay leaves, chicken stock and salt to taste. Simmer for up to 30 minutes. Add the bacon back into the pot (or you can always save this to add to each individual bowl at the end).
- Separately cook the elbow macaroni until 1-2 minutes before the box indicates for al dente. It will continue to cook in the hot soup when ladled over individual bowls.
- Remove the parmesan rind and bay leaves.
- Please a handful of kale in the bottom of each bowl along with some cooked macaroni. Pour the hot soup over the kale and elbow macaroni and serve with extra parmesan cheese and optionally a side of bread. I’ve served this with whole grain bread, sliced and brushed with olive oil and baked in the oven on broil for 3 minutes.