It would be easy for me to make various toxic-eque type puns surrounding the use of both beans AND cabbage. But let’s set those aside for the time being, as I tell you a bit of the soup.
Yes, it’s an Italian soup. And yes, it is very much a winter soup, what with the use of various ingredients that can be stored for well into the early months of the year. But as with a great majority of Italian recipes, this one allows for a fair amount of improvisation to suit your own tastes. The original recipe lacked oregano as well as garlic, both items that are staples for me. I also Americanized it with the use of kidney beans rather than other more typically Italian legumes. One could easily use chickpeas or fava beans, both of which would change the dish somewhat, but still keep its basic premise.
Called minestra di pasta, fagioli, e cavolo alla sarda in Italian, it is a great recipe for those busy Sundays when you don’t have time to spend all day in the kitchen.
- 6 Cups water
- 1 15 oz can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 sprig of fresh oregano
- Salt, to taste
- 2 cups sliced savoy cabbage
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 oz. pancetta, diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
- 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
- 2 cups cooked small pasta, like a rotini or elbow macaroni
- 8 slices toasted Italian bread
- shredded Parmagiano-Regiano cheese
In a large stock pot, add beans to the water, and bring to small simmer over medium low heat (roughly 185 degrees F). Add sprig of Oregano and cover for 30 minutes.
After the 30 minutes, add the cabbage to the pot. Meanwhile, over medium-high heat, fry the pancetta with the garlic in a medium sized for five minutes. Add the onions, allow all to cook until the onions get soft and slightly translucent, about eight to ten minutes. Add the fennel seeds and tomatoes. lowering the heat to medium and cook for another 10 minutes. Add to the soup.
Allow the soup to cook for another hour or so, allowing it to get to temperature. Then about a half hour before serving, start the pasta water. Cook two cups of dried pasta as per directions on the box. Drain and add to the soup. Raise the burner to high and cook the soup for between five and seven minutes.
To serve, ladle over toasted Italian bread and top with shredded Parm.