By David Harbilas
One day last week I went to work faced with the task of feeding my co-workers with little to use.
Our walk-in was full of steak, pork, fish, and vegetables, but all that was set-aside was some chicken.
Luckily, I also found about 10 pounds of heirloom tomato scraps that were, to put it mildly, past peak.
In the spirit of frugal cooking I decided to make pasta e fagiole, the Italian soup of beans and pasta simmered in a tomato broth.
This is a perfect end-of-the-season recipe, since scraps or whole tomatoes that are overripe can be used. A simple puree of tomatoes provides the base, while the beans and pasta provide the meat.
Makes about 1 gallon soup
8 tomatoes, overripe, if possible
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small bag of white beans, about 8 ounces
2 cups elbow pasta
Â½ cup basil, chopped
2 chicken breasts, diced (optional)
2 cups white wine
About 8 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak the bean for 6-12 hours in cold water and drain. In a large saucepan heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat and sautÃ© the onions until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sautÃ© for 1 minute. Add the chicken, if using, and brown lightly, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and reduce by 1/2, about 5-8 minutes. Add the beans and water and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beans are tender. Add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes. Finish by adding the basil.