27 Mar 2010

The politically incorrect guide to Italian cuisine… for bad housewives and lazy slackers like me.

Minestra di Pasta e Fagioli

Whenever I think of blogging about something I have cooked, I am always assailed with doubts… I look up to people like the fabulous Letizia of La Madonna del Piatto or Judy of Divina Cucina, always blogging about incredible recipes, fresh products, healthy habits. They show people the great things that Italian cuisine can offer, how great our culinary tradition is.

Then there are women like me… “lavative“, the slackers!

I love cooking, and I know the difference that comes from cooking with fresh ingredients or taking all the time it really needs. But hey, sometimes I just need to fix a quick meal before going back to my computer. Or, on days like today, we leave Pisa to come to Civitella and we arrive to a house with no food in it… too late to go shopping, too lazy to go out to the restaurant.

So here it is: my very personal politically incorrect guide to Italian cuisine, for lazy slackers like me!

Minestra di pasta e fagioli, bean soup, is the Italian sacred cow that I am going to kill today. It is one of the most popular Italian recipes thanks to Tony Soprano and thousands of other immigrants that left Italy to bring the marvelous tradition of “pasta fazool” to the rest of the world.

Now, the orthodox recipe says that you need: dry beans, sage, tomatoes, garlic, vegetable broth, salt, olive oil, pepper, pasta and… 24 hours. First you need to soak the beans overnight, then you have to fry sage and garlic in olive oil, then you need to add beans and cover them in vegetable broth and let simmer for 40 to 60 minutes and finally you have to add pasta and let it cook.

OR, you could come home, realize it’s almost 9 pm already and you are hungry, open every single cupboard and drawer in your kitchen and realize that all you have is a can of beans, a spoonful of pasta at the bottom of a box, a couple of garlic cloves and some home-made canned tomatoes. Life is good.

So here is what you can do:

  • 8:59 pm – clean two garlic cloves and cut them in half
  • 9:01 pm – heat up some olive oil in a pot and add the garlic and some dry sage. Boil 1 litre of water in a kettle.
  • 9:06 pm – open a can of beans and pour them into the pot.
  • 9:08 pm – add some hot water, stir, add a cube or two of frozen chicken stock and a spoonful of canned tomatoes.
  • 9:10 pm – add more water and once it’s boiling, add 60gr of pasta
  • 9:10 – 9:19 pm – keep stirring and adding water to make the “minestra” the right consistency and to cook the pasta properly.
  • 9:20 pm – pour the minestra in a bowl, add some parmesan, some pepper, and some olive oil.

21 minutes flat: dinner is served and it tastes great!

When I am even lazier or if I feel no shame at all (like when I am really hungry or really busy), I use powdered chicken stock, commercial beans and tomato paste. It is probably not as healthy but it tastes good anyway!


  1. The soup looks great, and we all need those quick meals that we can make with things we always have on hand.

  2. Fantastic!!! This will come in handy on evenings when I’m throwing supper together between work and dashing back out to choir practice! Thanks from another sometimes-slacker 🙂

  3. Hi Cindy and Anne! Thank you for your comments! Yeah, you have to be realistic. Sometimes there is just not enough time for textbook cooking! LOL
    You’ll have to let me know how the recipe worked for you!
    a big hug to you both,


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