This was the view from my kitchen window the other day. It is unusual.  Snow!    We look West to the Fraser River, and  I frequently see ships going up and down the river.   They seem  to be sailing  through the fields.   Today we shivered through the coldest day  ever for November 23rd.   The perfect soup for this frigid day ,  Pasta e Fagioli.    My go- to reference book for Italian home cooking is The Silver Spoon.   This enormous volume was a birthday gift from my grandchildren.  I combined a couple of recipe for this Italian soup – which has as many variations as there are cooks.  It’s chock full of pasta, beans and vegetables, making it a hearty one-dish meal.  Perfect for the coldest November day ever.

PASTA E FAGIOLI  Yields 16 cups: serves eight.

8 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch wide strips,     3 medium onions, finely chopped,     3 medium cloves garlic, minced,       1/2 tsp. dried rosemary,   a generous sprinkle of red pepper flakes

2 quarts low salt chicken broth preferably home made,     two l1 1/2 oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained,     a 14 1/2 oz can  whole pealed canned tomatoes(break up the tomatoes),     4 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced,     2 medium celery ribs with leaves, thinly sliced crosswise,

1 slender 3 inch cinnamon stick,     kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (be generous), 1 cup of small dry pasta),     a generous splash of red-wine vinegar (or more to taste),     grated or shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish

In a 6 quart (or larger ) Dutch oven or stock pot, over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until partially crisp, about 7 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate and put aside (you’ll use the bacon at the very end of the recipe).

Add the onions to the pot, sprinkle with a little salt,  and cook, scraping up any of the lovely browned bacon bits and stirring occasionally until softened.  Add the garlic,  rosemary and a good sprinkle of red pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes more.

Add the chicken broth, chickpeas, tomatoes and their juices, carrots, celery, cinnamon stick, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground  pepper and l cup water.  Bring to a boil and high heat, skim any foam as necessary.  Reduce the heat and simmer stirring occasionally, until the carrots and celery  are very tender, about 30 minutes.    This soup simmering away on your kitchen stove will chase away those cold weather blues.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain.  Don’t be tempted to just add the pasta to the soup.  Uncooked pasta will absorb to much of the liquid.

Discard the cinnamon stick and add the pasta.  Stir in the bacon and vinegar.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more vinegar.  Taste your soup.  If you feel it is lacking a depth of flavour it probably needs a little more salt and pepper.

Serve garnished with Parmigian-Reggiano.

Your can store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.  Or, freeze your soup for up to 3 months.

Where have all the flower gone???  It’s winter here in the lower Mainland.  Brrrr.


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