Pasta e Fagioli

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Pasta e Fagioli by Travis Bowles
Story and Photos by Tamara Garcia

Travis Bowles, senior English Communication Arts major, has been cooking since he was old enough to reach across the stove.

“I started off making cheese and bologna sandwiches for my dad,” says Bowles, “they have always been his favorite.”

Pasta fazool—or more commonly known in Italian as “pasta e fagioli”—is a dish best served warm. The garlic and vegetable-heavy soup with a rich chicken broth is one of Bowles’s favorite meals to have during cold weather.

“I’ve mostly cooked pasta fazool for small family gathering during the winter,” Bowles says. “There’s nothing like a bowl of nice, warm soup on a cold and rainy day.”Having four years of experience as a chef working at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country & Spa located downtown (and sometimes cooking for star athletes and famous public figures), Bowles has expanded his horizons in the culinary world.

“I love making meals. I love cooking. It brings the family together,” he says.

Loaded with nutritious ingredients and savory spices, pasta fazool fills a kitchen with an aroma of good ol’ fashion home cooking.


  • 2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 pound (about 3 slices) pancetta, chopped
  • 2 (4 to 6-inch) sprigs rosemary, left intact
  • 1 (4 to 6-inch) sprig thyme with several sprigs on it, left intact
  • 1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans
  • 1 cup canned tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups ditalini
  • Grated Parmigiano or Romano

Heat a deep pot over medium high heat and add oil and pancetta. Brown the pancetta bits lightly, and add herb stems, bay leaf, chopped vegetables, and garlic. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Add beans, tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and raise heat to high. Bring soup to a rapid boil and add pasta. Reduce heat to medium and cook soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. Rosemary and thyme leaves will separate from stems as soup cooks. Remove herb stems and bay leaf from soup and place pot on table on a trivet. Let soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and top with lots of grated cheese. Pass crusty bread for bowl mopping.

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