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How about a classic Italian comfort food?

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I refer to Pasta E Fagioli, a soup that can be prepared vegetarian-style or with either beef or chicken. I once saw the late Dom DeLuise make it on a television show; I always think of him when I make it. DeLuise was proud of his Italian heritage and displayed it in some of his films. He died before his time and I regret the loss of his talent, not to mention the tragic death of actor Robin Williams and his struggles..

Among his talents, though, was certainly that he could cook! Try this lovely soup someday when you want to put it together in a slow cooker, turn it on and go to work or some other project that will consume a few hours. You will find dinner ready when you get home.

It will also be very pleasant to be at home while it is simmering, filling your home with its homey fragrance. Don't forget that soups like this are a one-dish meal, and only need a light wine and crusty bread to make it an evening. A green salad would also be a great side dish with all the hot cooked ingredients.

PASTA E FAGIOLI SOUP

From Cafe Margot

Ingredients:

1 medium organic onion, chopped
1 large organic carrot, chopped
1 large organic zucchini, chopped
Half of a package of fresh organic mushrooms, sliced
2 or more cloves of organic garlic
1 can of small-diced organic tomatoes, regular size, with or without Italian seasoning
1 regular can of organic Cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups of broth, either beef, chicken or vegetable
Half a package of pasta that is suitable for soup, such as farfalle
Herbs and seasonings
Olive oil for sweating the onion

Place about 2 Tablespoons of the oil into a soup pot and heat it over a medium setting while you chop and slice. Add the onion and sweat it until it becomes translucent. Add the carrot and the mushrooms. Let them mix in the pot and finally add the garlic.

Add the tomatoes and broth and stir to combine everything. Increase the heat setting to high and bring the soup to a boil. Add the pasta, cover and reduce the heat to medium. Let it cook for 30 minutes until the pasta is done and transfer to a serving dish or plate it in soup bowls.

This soup can also be made by combining all the ingredients in a slow cooker large enough to hold everything comfortably, and left on the LOW setting all day. If you want it to cook faster, you can obviously set it on HIGH.

If you want to add meat or chicken, cook it before adding it to the stove-top version of the dish. If you are going to slow-cook it, wait until about half an hour before you are going to serve, cook the meat, and stir it in. By all means add the pan juices.

This is an outstanding one-dish meal and the beans will add some hefty nutrition to a soup that has become one of the classic comfort foods of all time.

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