This is something you can whip up really fast. And it's really tasty. It came about when I realized I had to cook dinner on a night I was getting home around 7:30. That makes anything that takes elaborate prep lead to a dinner that's too late for this pregnant lady. Gone are the days of "Oh, I can wait til 10 to eat". It's more like "Feed me before I mow through the cheese department at Whole Foods" at the glamourous hour of about 7pm.
Driving around I thought about what was in the cupboards. There was that (I'm ashamed to say it as I don't buy canned food as a rule but somehow this was in there....) can of cannelini beans. There was leftover penne arrabiata in the fridge. There were some winter veggies. I always have a can (speaking of cans which I don't buy unless they're San Marzano tomatoes which somehow feel righteous in their Italianness) of tomatoes.....
And here you have the product of that thinking: a winter soup that's hearty enough to be the main dish and so easy you can start it at 7:45 and be eating by 8:30. I remembered the Alice Waters Bean and Pasta soup in her Art of Simple Food. This is loosely loosely based on that.
Easy Winter Soup
1 can cannelini beans (garbanzos would work too....or any legume I guess)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 bay leaf
some dried chile (I grind whole ones up in a spice grinder; you could use flakes)
1 bay leaf
herb of your choice: I used tarragon since Sky loves it
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 one of those big cans of San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
some pasta noodles (potatoes would be great as well)--I used penne
salt, pepper, parmesan cheese
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions
2. While you're waiting for water to boil, and as the pasta cooke, make the soup: pour enough olive oil into soup pot to coat bottom; warm on med-high heat for 2 minutes
3. Add onion, carrot, celery, chile, bay leaf, tarragon, a little salt. Cook til veggies start to soften 5-10 minutes (lower heat if they're browning too quickly)
4. Add garlic cloves , cook another minute or two more
5. Add tomatoes and cook with veggies a few minutes longer
6. Add beans and cover with water (I didn't have stock on hand but by all means use that if you do). Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and cook about 10 minutes, allowing flavors to meld.
7. By this point your pasta should be done or nearly done; once you've drained it, add as much as you like to soup and cook just for a minute or two as you don't want mushy pasta.
8. Season with salt and pepper to taste
9. Once soup is in bowls, top with some good olive oil and some parmesan cheese
I had it for lunch again today