Classic Italian pasta e fagioli is a time-consuming soup, involving chicken stock and multiple ingredients that need prepping and chopping. Here’s a lighter, healthier, short-cut riff, adapted from one in chef Noah Galuten’s “Don’t Panic Pantry Cookbook” (Knopf, $ 35). Serves 4-6. – Susan Puckett
- 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus more, for serving)
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced (or more, to taste)
- 8 to 10 ounces pre-washed baby spinach greens
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or other white beans, undrained
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch of red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
- 6to 12 ounces shell or other small pasta
1 cup packed, roughly torn fresh basil leaves (or 3-4 tablespoons prepared pasta)
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, pour the canned tomatoes and their juices into a large bowl and, with clean hands or a potato masher, crush the tomatoes into a coarse, chunky consistency. Remove and discard any hard stems.
- In a Dutch oven or pot, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic slices and cook, stirring, until golden, a minute or two.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and add the spinach. Season lightly salt and pepper and cook until fully wilted. Add the beans along with their juices, oregano, red pepper flakes (if using) and a little more salt and pepper and allow them to simmer about 5 minutes, or until the liquid thickens a bit and is reduced by about half.
- Stir the crushed tomatoes into the mixture, season with a little more salt and pepper, and bring the mixture to a full simmer. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer while you cook and drain the pasta, 10 or 15 minutes.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions; drain in a colander.
- Stir in half the basil, or the prepared pesto. If serving the soup all at once, add the pasta to the pot. Or if you’ll be having leftovers, add desired amount of pasta to shallow soup bowls and ladle the soup mixture over the pasta.
- Top with parmesan cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of basil and eat immediately with a spoon.
Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.