• By Deanna Segrave-Daly
  • In 2019
  • January 9, 2019

Pasta e Fagioli with Greens

Hearty Italian comfort food with an extra nutrition kick: Pasta and Bean Soup with Greens.
by Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD

I originally developed this recipe for The Recipe ReDux monthly theme “Pick a new ingredient to try in the new year.” So, what as my new ingredient? (Clearly, it wasn’t pasta, beans or leafy greens – items that are regularly in my kitchen.)

It was actually nutritional yeast. I’d been curious about trying it for a while -to see what it taste like and learn more about its nutritional benefits.

Rather than come up with some funky out-of-the box recipe, I figured I’d follow the food advice I’ve always given parents when it comes to feeding kids – serve a new food with familiar and well-liked foods.

And pasta is my security blanket 🙂

I’ve been making a version of pasta bean soup or “Pasta Fah-jule” for many years but ironically I had never posted a recipe for it. Probably because it’s one of those recipes that I know by heart and I eyeball the ingredients instead of precisely measuring. (UPDATE – I now have a version of this recipe in my 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook that launched in October 2018.)

It’s also one of those recipes where I use kidney beans one time then pinto beans the next. Dilanti pasta sometimes then whole wheat elbows another time. It’s truly of those “use what you have on hand” recipes which I’m trying to cook more often to be mindful about food waste and food dollars.

So, about nutritional yeast:

You can buy it in powder form (I bought Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning at my Whole Foods.) It’s dry yeast fortified with B vitamins including Vitamin B12, which is naturally found in animal foods.

Nutritional yeast is the perfect topper for this vegan Pasta e Fagioli @tspbasil

Vitamin B12 is essential for nerve growth, creating DNA and producing energy in the body and if you are vegetarian or vegan, you need to get it through fortified food or supplements. Nutritional yeast powders (read the label to make sure B12 is an ingredient!) typically are a good source of B12 – the Bragg product provides 40% of the Daily Value needed for adults in one serving (one tablespoon.)

I found it to be meaty tasting in a mushroom flavor way – it’s definitely the definition of the savory taste of umami. And while it didn’t taste like my favorite aged Asiago, it still was a nice flavor enhancer to my bowl of vegan Pasta e Fagioli.

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PASTA E FAGIOLI WITH GREENS
Makes 6 servings:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 (15.5 ounces) no-salt added canned beans (like kidney, cannellini, pinto) drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups low-sodium tomato soup (I use Trader Joe’s)
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 8 ounces uncooked short pasta (like ditalini, tubetti or elbows) – preferable whole grain
  • 3 cups arugula, spinach or baby kale
  • 6 tablespoons nutritional yeast powder

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, add oil and heat over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic, rosemary and red pepper flakes, saute another 2 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add in beans, tomato soup and broth. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Pour 2 cups of bean broth into a blender. Puree and add back to pot (this is to thicken the soup.)
  4. Bring to a boil. Add in pasta and lower to a simmer. Cook pasta according to package directions or until cooked through. (NOTE: stir every few minutes so pasta doesn’t stick to the pot. Also you may need to add a few more minutes to recommended cooking time as pasta is cooking with other ingredients.)
  5. Remove from heat and stir in greens. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  6. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast powder per bowl.

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In addition to using nutritional yeast, this was the first time I added greens to the soup. As a kid, I DEPLORED when my mom made me take a bite of the escarole in her homemade Italian wedding soup – so much so that I thought I hated that soup for years. (Side note: Sally of Real Mom Nutrition wrote a brilliant post on this very issue recently: Should You Make Your Kids Take “Just One Bite?”)

Hearty Italian comfort food with an extra nutrition kick: Pasta and Bean Soup with Greens (sprinkled with Nutritional Yeast) @tspbasil

So, if the greens in the soup are a turnoff to your kids (or spouse in my case) by all means, leave them out and serve a salad or other veggie with the meal instead.

Hearty Italian comfort food with an extra nutrition kick: Pasta and Bean Soup with Greens (sprinkled with Nutritional Yeast) @tspbasil