Pasta Figoli

by Brittany Kirby on March 30, 2013

This wonderful Italian soup started out as a peasant dish…the name means simply pasta and beans.   There are hundreds of versions that vary widely based on the region where it’s prepared.  Some are made with broth and contain no tomatoes, others like this one are thicker with a rich tomato base.

The first time I had this, I had just made a new friend.  I’ve postponed posting this recipe as it’s painful to write about.  Several months before I lost my son, I was made aware that there was a family just down the street whose adored youngest son Sean had just died;  only months before his high school graduation.  Every time I passed their lovely new house I was relieved when I saw cars parked outside; wanting that poor Mother to have the support I knew she must need.  And then it was only a matter of months before our Jimmy was gone as well.  Unbelievable.

Cathie reached out to me gently with a card, a plant on my doorstep, and then a lovely pot full of this soothing, satisfying soup. She told me later if I hadn’t responded at all that would have been understandable; she just felt like she should try and make a connection.  I remember heating a cupful at a time in a coffee cup, and knowing the empathy and concern it was made with was what  made it taste so wonderful when not much else did.  We are good friends now, walk and have lunch and always say we  feel better afterwards.  I’m so glad she was kind and brave enough to want to help me, and no doubt she finds comfort as well in this unique relationship.

This post is dedicated to the memory of her son Sean Canepa, who passed away five years ago today.

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes

1 15 oz. can white beans (S&W Cannellini is good)

1/4 cup chopped parsley

ground black pepper and salt to taste

2 cups thin spaghetti broken into small pieces

Heat the oil in a 4 quart pot.  Add 2 cloves minced garlic and cook a minute over low heat, don’t brown.  Add the two cans of diced tomatoes with their juice, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, and the salt and pepper.  Let the sauce cook for 10-15 minutes.  Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth, or use a hand blender right in the pot.  Return to pot and add a can of cannellini white beans.   In a separate large pot bring salted water to a boil and cook the broken pieces of pasta until al dente, then drain and add to the sauce.  Save a little of the pasta water to add to the soup if it is too thick.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.  This tends to thicken upon standing or reheating, so you may need to add water.  Serves about 4.

Note: Last time I made this I had some small diced prosciutto on hand, and threw that in while I sautéed the garlic. Nice flavor.  A little fresh sage is a traditional addition also.

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