Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa and a belated Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. I am currently mid-week through the second and last week of my winter break from school (day job is as a high school counselor) and I must admit, staycations in L.A. are pretty awesome. We were originally planning on heading to Ojai for a week during this vacation break but we cancelled our plans last-minute as we are actually moving soon so needed to save that cash money for the move. But, never fear! We live in an amazing city full of extremely expensive family activities so there are a lot of things to do . . . . only we haven’t done them because of the aforementioned expensive. Ok, that’s not true. We did ice skating one day, which cost so much money it’s embarrassing. So aside from the ice skating, we haven’t really ventured out much. It’s shockingly cold in L.A. this season so we’ve done a lot of family baking/cooking projects, at-home movie matinees, neighborhood exploring (going to other neighborhoods and taking nice strolls through them) and grocery shopping. Lots and Lots of grocery shopping.
Due to the fact that it’s the Chanukah season, we have also eaten our fair share of donuts and fried foods. That is, until one day last week I decided it was time for some vegetables. I scoured Pinterest for some inspiration and settled on soup. Soup! Yes! It rained 4 days in a row this break (Baruch Hashem) so we were in the mood for something comforting and healthy. Back in my non-kosher days, the soup that would bring me this type of comfort was, no joke, The Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli. The perfect combo of vegetables, greasy meat and pasta! It’s like a hug for your belly. The traditional Pasta e Fagioli is made with sausage so what’s a kosher lady to do? Use soy crumbles and lots of fennel seed, of course! You are welcome to omit soy crumbles and just season your veggies with the seasonings I’ve listed below or you can also get some vegan sausage meat and use that. I’ve kosher Pasta e Fagioli with unseasoned soy crumbles and seasoned vegan sausage meat and I actually prefer the unseasoned soy crumbles. Honestly though, both are delicious.
Vegan Pasta e Fagioli
- 1 cup ditalini pasta
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 cups soy crumbles or soy sausage
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 cups veggie broth
- 1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried fennel seed (1 tsp if using Italian-seasoned vegan sausage)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tbsp black pepper
- 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15-ounce) can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- In a medium pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well and set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add soy crumbles/sausage to the skillet and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Make sure to break up the soy sausage crumble as it cooks; set aside once done.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the same stockpot. Stir in garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.
- Next, add the seasonings to the veggies and stir. Cook, stirring occasionally for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the spices are fragrant.
- Add in vegetable broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, soy crumbles and 1 cup water; taste and add more salt if necessary. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
- Stir in pasta and beans until heated through. Serve while hot!