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By Bob Fortunato
Soup is truly universal.
The French, Chinese, Germans, Russians, English, Italians, etc. all have their own specialty soups. Americans will tell you a cold wintery day or any day is a day for old fashioned bean soup. I remember that Checks Cafe in Louisville had 35-cent bean soup every day; except on Thursdays when they had butterbean soup. Soup appeals to almost everyone. A bowl of soup is tasty and nutritious. It doesn't matter if it's lunch or dinner, appetizer or main course.
Soups play an important role in the Italian daily diet, frequently taking the place of pasta as the first of the main meal and often served as the main course at a light supper. The soups range from a light broth to a stew. For a quick soup you can take a carton of chicken or beef broth add it to cooked orzo with garlic powder,parsley and heat. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. My favorite soup is rib sticking Pasta E Fagioli (pasta and bean soup). Coaches Pitino and Calipari have been known to enjoy this dish. I have fond memories of my Aunt Caroline serving me this as a boy, it was great. Serve with french or italian bread. A tossed salad to begin with makes it a great meal. A glass of red wine completes it for me. Bon Appetit!
Pasta e Fagioli
2 slices bacon or pancetta diced
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup shredded carrot
3 garlic cloves minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chopped dried rosemary
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
2 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 cans cannellini or great northern beans
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
7 ounces ditalini, tubetti or small shells pasta cooked.
Cook the meat in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onion, celery,carrot, and a pinch or salt cook stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. If using pancetta use a little olive oil to cook. Stir in the garlic cook 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and their juice, water, broth, tomato paste and bring to a boil. simmer 10 minutes. Add the beans, cooked drained pasta and the seasonings (optional a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. Simmer 15 - 20 minutes Add additional water if necessary..serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Butternut Squash Soup with Beans and Corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups peeled, diced butternut squash
1 leek, white part only, halved lengthwise and sliced
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried.
3 cups fat free low salt chicken broth
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can kidney beans drained
1 cup frozen or canned drained corn
salt and pepper
In a small dutch oven or deep saucepan, heat the oil medium heat. Saute the squash, leek, onion, and garlic until the onion is translucent and starts to soften, about 6 minutes. stir in the rosemary. Add the broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered, 10 minutes. add the tomatoes, beans and corn and simmer uncovered, for 10 minutes. season the soup with salt and pepper, makes 7 cups. serve with crackers or bread.
Bob Fortunato is a longtime Oldham County resident who loves to cook.