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Soup is a comforting meal in a bowl
Known as Pasta e Fagioli, this may be one of Italy's most famous soups. The combination of pasta and beans is heart-warming, and it can be served for two or a crowd. It's perfect to serve to friends. Leave the pot on the stove for everyone to help themselves.
In Italy, they use the last bits of pasta left in various opened boxes — a great way to use up the leftover pasta. This recipe calls for acini di pepe, a small round pasta used mostly for soups. Any type of small pasta can be used.
Tips: If making the soup in advance, leave out the pasta and add it 10 minutes before serving to finish cooking. To make this a vegetarian dinner, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth. Canned Great Northern beans can be used instead of cannellinis. Two crushed garlic cloves can be used instead of bought minced garlic.
ITALIAN LETTUCE SALAD
2 cups washed, ready-to-eat Italian-style salad
2 tablespoons reduced-fat oil and vinegar dressing
Place salad in a bowl and toss with the dressing. Makes two servings.
PASTA AND BEAN SOUP (PASTA E FAGIOLI)
1-1⁄2 cups rinsed and drained cannellini beans
2 cups canned, no-salt-added, whole tomatoes including the juice
1 cup sliced celery
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups non-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄4 cup acini di pepe pasta
1⁄2 cup fresh basil
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Place beans, tomatoes and their liquid, celery and garlic in a large saucepan. Add the chicken broth and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, breaking up the tomatoes with the edge of a spoon. Cover, lower the heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes.
Add the oil and pasta. Boil, uncovered, for about eight minutes, or until pasta is cooked. Add the basil and salt and pepper, to taste. Serve the soup in bowls and pass the Parmesan to sprinkle on top. Makes two servings.
Linda Gassenheimer is the author of more than 20 cookbooks including her newest, "Fast and Flavorful-Great Diabetes Meals from Market to Table" and "The Flavors of the Florida Keys." Visit Linda on her web page at DinnerInMinutes.com or email her at Linda@DinnerInMinutes.com. Twitter @LGassenheimer.