Sizzle Simmer Sauté Sylvania – Take the chill off with two classic Italian soups

Jennifer Alexander Ruple

Happy new year and welcome to winter in northwest Ohio! There’s no better time of year to hunker down and enjoy a big steaming bowl of homemade soup – exactly what’s needed to take the chill off cold January days. Not only is soup comforting and warm, but it’s easy to prepare and good for you. Here are two classic Italian soups to cook up this month including local Chef Liz Donaldson’s Italian Wedding Soup and my version of the rustic Pasta e Fagioli.

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli, also known as Pasta Fazool, is a thick and hearty Italian soup. Its name simply means pasta and beans, but it’s also chock-full of vegetables including carrots, celery and onions. This soup can easily be made vegetarian by swapping the beef for two cups of fresh spinach.

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Two 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 5 cups vegetable stock, plus 1 cup to thin soup
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 ounces small pasta such as ditalini or macaroni, uncooked
  • 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15-ounce can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh rosemary for garnish

In a large pot, cook ground beef over medium heat until it is no longer pink. Drain and set aside.
In the same pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. If using spinach instead of beef, add it to the pot now, and stir until it begins to wilt.

When vegetables are tender, add cooked beef, tomato sauce, tomatoes, stock, basil, oregano, rosemary, sugar and salt and pepper. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow soup to simmer about 15 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook for 10 minutes more until pasta is cooked through.

Stir in beans and cook until they are heated through. If the soup becomes too thick for your preference, add another cup of stock. Just be sure to adjust seasonings afterwards.

Serve soup with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, a sprig of fresh rosemary, and a hunk of crusty bread.

(Recipe by Jennifer Alexander Ruple)

Italian Wedding Soup


From the name of it, one would think Italian Wedding Soup would be a typical food served at Italian weddings. However, its name in Italian, minestra maritata, translates to “married soup,” referring to the fact that the soup’s main ingredients, meat and vegetables, marry well with one another. Instead of rolling your own, opt for premade mini meatballs. They can be found in the freezer section at Sofo’s Italian Market.

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, trimmed and diced
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups tiny meatballs
  • 1 cup acini di pepe
  • 1 package fresh spinach
  • Rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a large pot, melt the butter and sauté the vegetables until softened.

Add the chicken stock and the meatballs. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium.

Add the acini di pepe and the cheese rind and allow to simmer 20-25 minutes. Add the fresh spinach and cook for 10 minutes.

(Recipe by Chef Liz Donaldson)

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