While studying abroad in Italy my junior year of college, I ate countless versions of Pasta e Fagioli. I love this warming rustic soup, because it’s slightly different everywhere you go and often made from using up vegetables or cuts of meat that are already on hand. I lightened up this traditionally hearty soup by using cauliflower instead of pasta and use sheets of kombu (a seaweed) to create that umami and salty bite that typically would come from small bits of bacon or ham. I love to serve this soup with a large salad and Justin likes to dip a loaf of crusty sourdough into this soup!
Begin by sweating your onions,garlic,carrots and celery in the olive oil over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes. Since this soup does not call for traditional broth, ensure you salt and pepper the ingredients along the way. At this point, I added 1 tsp of salt, 1.5 tsp of pepper and 1.5 tsp of garlic powder.
Once the onions have turned translucent, add in your rosemary, thyme and bay leaves and tear the sheet of kombu into strips, stir the aromatics with the cooked vegetables. Next add your cauliflower, crushed tomatoes, 1 more tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Also, add in your 2 cups of water and allow to combine for 10-15 more minutes until cauliflower is tender. After 10-15 minutes has gone, add one more cup of water so the soup doesn’t get too thick. Add in your cans of beans (drained and rinsed) and stir. Add one more tsp of black pepper and a 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes (optional) for a little heat, allow flavors to come together and until beans are heated through this takes about 5-8 mins. Top with parsley and fresh cracked pepper, serve it up and enjoy!