Cranberry Bean Pasta Fagioli

November 3, 2010

This year, we went through the month of Sicktober (and Sucktober) at the House of T. Miss D. and Miss M. passed this contagion–we refer to it as HackBoogeyman–back and forth for 31 days. This was definitely not pleasant, but hubs and I consoled ourselves with the fact that at least we, the navigators of this sinking ship, remained disease-free.

Our pride came back to bite our butts the last week of October. The week of Halloween, every human was illin’ at our house.  We were a miserable, self-pitying lot. Miss M. and Miss D., both now completely used to being snot-ridden, weathered it with nary a peep, but hubs and I were ridiculously pathetic.

HackBoogeyman is a mean little bastard. Even hubs, who is rarely sick beyond a day or two, was down for most of the week. The night before Halloween, we rallied and attended a costume party because we didn’t want to disappoint the girls. Within an hour, SuperGirl and The Green Lantern had apparently lost all superpowers, because we scurried, wheezing, back home to our beds.

Luckily, we were on the  mend a few days later. I owe my recovery partly to this soup, which fed me most of the week.  Maybe my body was trying to tell me something, because the day before HackBoogeyman struck, I made a pot of this soup. Hubs isn’t a kale fan, so I ended up eating almost all of this myself.  It’s warm, nourishing and delicious.

The key to flavoring this soup is the Secret of the Rind. Do you know this little trick? Some wily Italian grandmother figured out this bit of tomfoolery and I’m telling you–adding a piece of the hardened end of a hunk of Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese to the broth? Genius. Who knew that the inedible rind of a block of cheese=flavor magic?

You can use the Secret of the Rind when you make any hearty vegetable soup, such as Minestrone or, as I did last week, Pasta Fagioli.

Pasta Fagioli is kind of a soup/pasta hybrid. It’s not quite a pasta dish and not quite a soup. Despite the identity crisis, Pasta Fagioli is delicious. I went to high school with quite a few Italians, and there’s always rich argument about what a “true” bowl of Pasta Fagioli is.  Every family seems to have it’s own recipe, and every family vociferously defends it’s version as “authentic.”  It’s pretty entertaining to watch them argue, actually–you’ve never seen such hand-waving in your life.

Whether you add white beans or brown, tomatoes or no tomatoes, kale or carrots, your version is certain to be tasty as long as you heed the Secret of the Rind.

Make this the next time you get some dreaded disease or on a cold winter weekend; it’s a savory bowl of comfort.

Cranberry Bean Pasta Fagioli

serves 4 to 6

from Food Network Magazine

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

5 cloves garlic, smashed

1 small onion, roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 2-ounce piece pancetta (optional)

5 canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand

kosher salt

1 cup dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight

2 bay leaves

1 piece Parmesan cheese rind, plus 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and extra for topping

2 cups small pasta, such as shells or ditalini

1 bunch kale, stems and ribs discarded, leaves chopped

1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, rosemary and pancetta and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook 2 more minutes; season with salt. Add the soaked beans, 3 cups water, the bay leaves and parmesan rind. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the beans are tender, about 2 hours.

Uncover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Add the kale and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. (The soup should be thick and creamy; thin with water, if necessary.)

Remove the bay leaves, parmesan rind and pancetta. Add the grated Parmesan, parsley, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Top with more cheese and olive oil, if desired.

Click here for an Awesome eggplant recipe, courtesy of Rebecca!  Veggie lovers, you’re in for a treat!

I’d also love it if you’d join me at The Happiest Mom today! We’re talking about the unique challenges of cooking for children and families! I love Meagan’s blog, and I know you will too!

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Phoo-d November 3, 2010 at 4:19 pm

What a beautiful soup! You are right, parmesean rinds = flavor gold. I’m glad that you finally knocked the sickies far far away. What a miserable way to spend October. Mr. B is home in bed today and I’m crossing my fingers that this preggo doesn’t catch it!


Devon November 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Chunks of cheese rind crowd my freezer, but I’ve never heard of cranberry beans- they are some fat little dudes.


Aging Mommy November 3, 2010 at 5:18 pm

This sounds fabulous – just what the doctor ordered or just what you need on a cold autumn day, yes, it has finally arrived here in the desert too, along with all the bugs :-)


Kristen @ Motherese November 3, 2010 at 5:36 pm

This sounds delicious – and a perfect foil for HackBoogeyman who, by the way, seems to have taken up semi-permanent residence in our house as well. So bring on the pasta fagioli and be gone, germs!

Feel good!


Rudri November 3, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I love the recipes where meat is optional. Thanks Kitch. Hope everyone is on the mend.


Jennifer November 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm

That looks completely yummy.


Keyona November 3, 2010 at 6:24 pm

That looks yum! I’m sorry the HackBoogeyman invaded your household. Hope y’all kicked his ass.


Ink November 3, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Oh, sending LOTS of hugs your way! You poor babes over there! Get thee to a sweatery! (I can’t think of what it’s called but the place where you to go sit in steam and kick the toxins out…not, obviously, a place where you knit sweaters.)

And you get 1000 chee points for “sicktober” and “sucktober”…LMAO!


Amy @ Never-True Tales November 3, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Wait: does Parmesan have a rind? Don’t you grate up the whole thing? I feel like I’ve missed a basic step in Cooking 101 here.

I love pasta fagioli though, and will try! Feel better soon, you sickos!


TKW November 5, 2010 at 4:54 am

Amy, yes! The real Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese has an inedible, hard rind on the back of it. Next time you buy a hunk, hack off the rind and store it in a ziploc in your freezer. Then, the next time you make soup, viola! Flavor magic!


Heather November 3, 2010 at 7:55 pm

I learned the Secret of the Rind about a year ago – best lesson ever! This soup looks fabulous. I’m feeling a little chilly right now. Might have to make some this weekend:)


Amber November 3, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I love soup AND pasta! A beautiful mix!!


Contemporary Troubadour November 3, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Yikes! Hope you’re on the mend permanently (no passing this nasty bug another round). As for that soup, YUM. I want some of that NOW. Did not know the Secret of the Rind, but it would have been unlikely for me to discover it on my own. We love cheese enough in this house that we eat the rinds too (when not wax or paper or that strange dustiness I have yet to identify in super-aged specimens).


bryan November 4, 2010 at 1:48 am

Supergirl and the Green Lantern? Sorry you couldn’t survive the party. The soup sounds great I love using the rind. Beautiful picture by the way!


Rebecca November 4, 2010 at 2:34 am

I feel very honored to be let into the Secret of the Rind. I will feast and pass along!


Christine November 4, 2010 at 5:01 am

We have been struck by the same virus…or at least the hacking one. Well I have. And it has started to swirl around our home, because it seems my 4yo is getting it again. DAMN IT!!

Okay….so for once I don’t think I’ll try one of your recipes. I’m sorry. But I can’t do it. I am NOT a fan of any kind of beans. I think it’s the one of the reasons I would make a terrible vegetarian.


Sherri November 4, 2010 at 5:24 am

Love these autumn-inspired recipes!


~Laura November 4, 2010 at 5:55 am

That sounds yummy. My yucky nosed little ones could use some of this right about now.


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon November 4, 2010 at 6:01 am

I discovered the magic that is the parmesan rind in soup. Even better is that after it has flavored your soup, you can eat that magically delicious and now super soft rind.


Futureblackmail November 4, 2010 at 6:03 am

I call bullshit. You even eat well when you are sick? Do you ever take a break? Even if I would have made a pot of this awesomeness pre-sick, it probably still would’ve been toast and McDonald’s for me.


elizabeth November 4, 2010 at 6:29 am

I would like a bowl of this in my face right this moment. No, I don’t care that it’s 9:30. This looks so perfect and inviting that I just want to dunk my head into it.


SuziCate November 4, 2010 at 6:53 am

Nothing like homemade soup of any kind when you’re sick!


Gale @ Ten Dollar Thoughts November 4, 2010 at 8:22 am

After Sicktober, I wish you a happy Wellvember. (Or something like that…) I love this time of year because I’m a soup fiend and this is one of my favorites. It’s like running into an old friend that you haven’t seen for nine months. Thanks for the reminder!


Jenna November 4, 2010 at 9:06 am

So I discovered the secret of the rind a few months ago, but have yet to use it. The funny thing is, I was just telling my sister about it yesterday on the phone. I think my favorite part will be taking the rind out when it’s done, and chomping down on that.


Donna November 4, 2010 at 9:54 am

I once attempted to make soup when I had a vicious headcold. I kept tasting and reseasoning, but I just couldn’t get it right. Finally I got it to a point where I thought it was okay. Hubby took one taste, looked at me, and said, “You really can’t taste anything, can you?” I guess not.


Belinda November 4, 2010 at 11:54 am

I just love kale and and beans are so perfect for fall. Will be trying this! Thanks!


Eva @ EvaEvolving November 4, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Oh man, I hope you guys don’t get sick for the whole winter – you’ve already had more than your share of Hackboogeyman!!

Love the secret of the rind – gonna try that with some minestrone this weekend.


faemom November 4, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Now if only I was a soup person.


leslie November 4, 2010 at 1:10 pm

31 days of a sick house???? That sucks ass. I am glad ya’ll are feeling better. Must have been the soup


Biz November 4, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I guess I’ve never heard of cranberry beans? I love beans, so what’s not to love – except kale – ew – I’ll sub in baby spinach please! :D


Maria November 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm

HackBoogeyMan has taken residence in Southern Florida. Damn him…maybe the soup will kick his ass to the curb…Glad you’re feeling better! Love the Secret of the Rind…It almost sounds like something J.K. Rowling would have cooked up at Hogwarts!


Evan @swEEts November 4, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I’m so glad its finally cold in Texas and I can start enjoying soups! this looks delicious


Tiffany November 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I’ve never known what to do with that rind…now I do!


cca November 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm

this looks fab! i am with Tiffany, now I know what to do with the rind!


Yuliya November 4, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Secret of the Rind…sounds like a Nicolas Cage movie…thank you for sharing, and please feel better.


theUngourmet November 4, 2010 at 11:04 pm

You said the “F” word!

Glad you all are on the mend. You know how partial I am to soup. The rind idea is such a great one!


Bonnie November 5, 2010 at 4:34 am

I do know the secret of the rind and what a difference that step makes. Did you know you can buy bags filled with parmesan rinds for a few dollars at Whole Foods? I keep one in the freezer at all times. And some of this soup sounds like a good thing to have around to enjoy and good health and not-so-good health.

Hope you all have stopped hacking and are back to good health!



Mrs.Mayhem November 5, 2010 at 5:42 am

It stinks that you’ve all been suffering through “Sucktober.” Hopefully, the girls have gotten all their sicknesses out of the way for the season.

Awesome recipe! I’m going to make a batch right away. Thanks.


girlichef November 5, 2010 at 9:29 am

Oh! That is the best kind of flavor magic, for sure! And I think with the kale I’d would be totally enamoured by a big pot of this soup. Glad to know that everyone’s pretty much kicked the crud!!


Barbara November 5, 2010 at 11:06 am

Nothing like soup when you feel crappy. I’ve really wanted to make something with cranberry beans too…..and kale is so good for what ails ya! Hope everyone is on the mend.

You, the non-dessert maker, actually won Maida Heatter’s Chocolate Cookbook. She is the dessert queen! Send me your mailing address ( so I can get this in the mail to you. Chocolate makes you feel better too, you know! :)


Shawna November 5, 2010 at 11:42 am

The problem with your blog, Kitch, is that it requires me to get out pen and paper to write this stuff down. YOU ARE AMAZING!

Thanks for the Pasta Fagioli recipe, while I love to eat it in restaurants I have never endeavoured to make one on my own but with your inspiration….

Anything is possible!


Jane November 5, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Ahhhh, the old rind trick! My best friend’s grandmother taught that trick to me, many, many years ago. It’s the secret to my sauce. Looking forward to trying it here.


Velva November 5, 2010 at 5:03 pm

I had the “hackboogeyman” for almost damn 30 days. Husband brought home rat germs from his trip, he arrived home sick, and passed it right along. Stuff was awful. I don’t get sick that often but, this laid me out.

I can see why this soup nourished you while sick. Looks awesome. I craved soup the whole time, wish I would have seen this one. The secret of the rind is an important piece of advice. My mother-in law is Italian and she surely would of have slapped me up side my head, had I not added the rind to a Italian soup.

Glad you are feeling better!



Chiara November 6, 2010 at 3:11 am

My mom always used the secret of the rind… it does make every soup taste a million times better, doesn’t it?


kathleen November 6, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Wow! This looks amazing. YUM. I love the cheese rind trick. I always throw a rind in when I make minestrone


Lanita November 6, 2010 at 2:13 pm

This is a little different than mine. I’ll have to give it a try next weekend, assuming I don’t get sick between now and then.


Paula {Salad in a Jar} November 6, 2010 at 8:34 pm

I noticed your recipe calls for San Marzano tomatoes which I had not heard of before a couple of days ago. I guess you think they are the best too. Can’t wait to find some and try them in this soup.


grace November 11, 2010 at 6:31 am

fact: i’ve never eaten a bean that i didn’t like (and that didn’t give me gas…overshare?). this soup looks and sounds fantastic. bring in on, winter!


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