Life is funny. You cook up Marcella Hazan’s Chicken fricassee with extra pungent porcini all the while expecting your family to hate it and everybody drools over the food. Then you make her classic Pasta e Fagioli soup with high hopes, no way can you miss with that list of ingredients, and it’s a little blah.
Don’t get me wrong: this week’s assignment for my Cooking Italy Club was not a total miss by any means. It was just, well, ordinary. In my book, that is, because my 4 year old dived in since he prefers bland flavours like most kids his age. In other words, it’s not because I wasn’t thrilled that you or your family won’t be.
One of the “drawbacks” of this recipe for me was that it needed to be served right away, otherwise the pasta drinks up all the broth and you end up with stew. Since I needed to take pictures for this post, what you see here IS a soup; what my family ate two hours later was anything but.
Did you know? Many beans like cranberry beans can be frozen with great success when in season. You just shell and freeze them in sealed plastic bags. You can then cook them as if they were fresh. Marcella Hazan likens the taste of cranberry beans to that of chestnut. They are a favourite in Italy where they are also called the Scotch bean. In Canada, I found them under the name Romano or Borlotti beans, but there is no mistaking their speckled cream and red pattern that unfortunately fades during cooking.
Has this ever happened to you? You find a recipe with nothing but good ingredients, like here, and expect the end result to be at the very least the sum of its parts if not more—but it never comes together. Conversely, you cook with very mundane ingredients with no expectation whatsover and kazam! culinary fireworks. This pasta e fagioli belongs to the solid but not spectacular category. For me. But my brood loved it. Geez, for once, I’m the picky eater in this family.
Lynn, I thought this one was a bit ho-hum too – nice enough but a bit ordinary – my partner, on the other hand, who loves bland food, loved it! I had broth (and quite a lot of it), right up to the point where Marcella says to let it stand for 10 minutes at the end – in that short 10 minutes my pasta soaked up all the broth and became stew. I haven’t posted mine yet, as the only photos I got were after it had turned to stew, and it doesn’t look that appealing. I think that I am going to try to make it again, and maybe increase the liquid factor so I still end up with something a little brothy at the end. Your photos are great by the way.