For day 25 of Soup Month 2012, we have a meaty version of the classic Italian Pasta e Fagioli, which translates simply into pasta and beans. This hearty soup started with a package of Hurst's brand pasta and bean mix, which is a mixture of navy beans and tiny pink beans with the ditalini pasta already included. After cooking the bean mixture about halfway, we added a few spices, some cooked hot Italian sausage and a cup of diced ham. This gave the soup a wonderful blend of flavors.
This soup does takes some time to prepare so it's a great soup to prepare on the weekend. By cooking it low and slow the flavors have time to meld into a delicious meal, and it's definitely worth the wait. If possible, try to add the fresh basil near the end of cooking time, as it does add a remarkably fresh flavor to the soup.
6 cups Water
1-1/2 cups Hurst's Pasta and Bean Soup Mix, rinsed
2 medium Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks Celery, chopped
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 TB Minced Garlic
2 Hot Italian Sausage Links, casings removed, cooked and broken into bite-sized pieces
1 cup Cubed Cooked Ham
2 Bay Leaves
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 TB Fresh Basil, chopped
Heat water in a medium soup pot and bring to a boil. Add the rinsed bean and pasta mix to the pot, boil for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer for 90 minutes.
Add vegetables, sausage and ham to the pot and stir. Then add the bay leaves, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook over low for 45-60 minutes or until the beans and vegetables are tender.
During the last 15 minutes of cook time, add the chopped basil to the pot and stir. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan Romano cheese and a loaf of warm crusty bread. Enjoy!!