From 1989 to 1994 my family lived in East Haven, Connecticut. Even though we were only there for a short time in comparison to our time in Virginia, our 5 year stint in New England greatly impacted our lives. I don’t share all of the same memories my family does, being that I was quite young at the time, but luckily I do recall a few. I remember playing at the town green after church, sledding at the Indian Bowl, the reading chairs at Hagaman Memorial Library…they were really awesome chairs in my 5 year old mind! But of course, some of my family’s fondest and strongest memories have to do with food.
Unfortunately, due to my incredibly picky eating habits back in the day, I missed out on most, if not all, of the food memories. I missed out on New Haven style pizza (unless it was “white” without tomato sauce) and all of the incredible Italian food offered in the area. You can’t get very far with Italian food if you are a young child trying to avoid tomatoes. As I grew up I’d always listen to stories about the amazing pizza from Toli’s or the pasta e fagioli from Silvio’s and I would always feel a hint of regret for my youthful ignorance. So, now that I am back in Connecticut I’ve made it a point to have my fill of all of the pizza and all of the pasta available.
Come to think of it, it’s my momma’s pasta e fagioli that got me hooked on soup to begin with. 2 years ago on Christmas Eve to be exact. I finally caved in and gave the soup a try. Since it was one of the first soups I’d ever had, I’m now greatly attached to it and get very excited when I see it on a menu. This is a bit ridiculous because it is a staple recipe and is pretty much on every Italian restaurant menu. At this point, I’ve had my fair share of the dish but my momma’s version wins me over by a landslide. Below is her recipe, adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Classic Italian Cookbook.
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
32 ounces of beef broth or stock
4 cloves of garlic
3-4 celery stalks, diced
1-2 carrots, diced
4-6 oz Canadian bacon
3 cans cannellini beans
1/2 box ditilini pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
Saute garlic, onion, carrots, and celery until tender over medium heat. Add in the crushed tomatoes and their liquid, Canadian bacon, beans, and stock. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low. I like to let the mixture simmer for about an hour or so. Salt and pepper the soup to taste. When you’re just about ready to serve, bring the soup to a boil again and add in the pasta. Cook until the pasta is tender. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan and sprinkle with parsley. Buon appetito!