Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta Bean Soup)
John La Puma, MD, ChefMD
This classic Italian soup is ideal for a cold winter day. Although the fennel adds great flavor, just leave it out if you can't easily find it in your local grocery, and simply add herbs of your own choice, such as rosemary or basil.
1 small fennel bulb, untrimmed
1 tsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups organic low-sodium vegetable broth
2 ounces whole wheat medium-sized pasta, such as wagon wheels or rotini (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups reduced sodium spicy vegetable juice
1 14.5 oz can organic fire-roasted diced or crushed tomatoes, undrained, such as Muir Glen brand
1 15 or 16 oz can organic no-salt-added navy beans, drained
1/2 cup frozen organic peas
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Cut off and reserve 2 tablespoons feathery fennel fronds for garnish. Chop enough fennel bulb to yield 1 cup. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped fennel; cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic; cook 1 minute. Add broth and pasta; then bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 5 minutes.
2. Stir in vegetable juice, diced tomatoes, beans, peas, and if desired, pepper flakes. Return to a simmer; cook 10 minutes or until pasta and fennel are tender, stirring occasionally. Ladle into shallow bowls; top with fennel fronds and feta cheese.
Tips and Substitutions: Chicken broth may replace the vegetable broth. Cannellini or great northern beans may replace the navy beans, and goat cheese may replace the feta cheese.
Per serving: Calories - 208, Total fat - 9g, Fat calories - 82, Cholesterol - 25mg, Trans fatty acids - 0g, Saturated fat - 4.5g, Polyunsaturated fat - 0.4g, Monounsaturated fat - 2g, Fiber - 10.6g, Carbohydrates - 43g, Sugar - 10g; Protein - 14.5g, Sodium - 768mg, Calcium - 249mg.
serving size: 1 1/2 cups