Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Spinach

6 01 2014

With the bitter cold temperatures upon us, it’s no surprise that I was in the mood for a comforting bowl of homemade Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and beans). I was planning on whipping up my usual Pasta e Fagioli, but stumbled on a sausage, bean and spinach stew recipe from Rachel Ray that sounded delicious and thought…why not mesh them together! So that’s exactly what I did. This hearty Italian dish is sure to warm your soul on a cold, winter night!

Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Spinach

Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Spinach

The following makes 6-8 servings (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat, with inspiration from Rachel Ray):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken broth
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1 pound mild or spicy Italian sausage (I used a pork/chicken sausage), casings removed, rolled into 1/2-inch meatballs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups small whole wheat pasta, such as macaroni or ditalini
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan, grated

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Make the sausage meatballs and put them on a baking sheet in the freezer to quickly set (a great trick I picked up from my mama!).

Meanwhile in another large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sweat the onion and celery for a few minutes, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, a minute. Mix in the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Season with salt to taste. Add the thyme, bay leaf, chicken broth, beans and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil.

Once the pot of water is boiling, add the sausage meatballs. When they float to the top they’re done, using a spider utensil, remove them to a strainer. Quickly rinse with water and add to the soup.

When the soup has come to a boil, add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions. When there is 5 minutes left in cooking the pasta, add the spinach and stir until wilted.

Turn off heat and remove the bay leaf and cheese rind. Add the juice and zest of half a lemon and taste, season with salt and pepper if needed.

Serve grated parmesan cheese with Pasta e Fagioli,, a salad and of course, a glass of vino!