Quick Fix: Treat yourself to a taste of Italy with Pasta Fagioli con Prosciutto

Pasta Fagioli con Prosciutto (Pasta and Bean Soup with Ham). (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)
Pasta Fagioli con Prosciutto (Pasta and Bean Soup with Ham). (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)

My Italian friend invited me over for what she said was a new look at one of Italy's most famous soups, Pasta Fagioli, or pasta and bean soup. She decided to add some ham to her recipe to make it a more filling supper. It was a great success. Here's a quick version.

I use acini di pepe, a very small round pasta, for the soup. In Italy they use the last bits of pasta left from opened boxes -- a great way to use leftover pasta.

Helpful Hints:

You can use canned Great Northern beans instead of cannellini beans.

You can use four crushed garlic cloves instead of minced garlic.

Prosciutto is the Italian name for ham. The recipe calls for smoked deli ham. Ask the deli to make ½-inch slices so you can cut them into cubes.

Countdown:

Prepare all the ingredients.

Make the soup.

Shopping List:

To buy: ¾ pound deli smoked ham, 1 can reduced-sodium cannellini beans, 1 can reduced-sodium diced tomatoes, 1 container reduced-sodium chicken broth, 1 package acini di pepe, 1 piece Parmesan cheese, 1 jar minced garlic, 1 bunch celery, 1 bunch basil.

Staples: olive oil, salt and black peppercorns.

Pasta fagioli con proscuito

(Pasta and bean soup with ham)

Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

½ pound deli smoked ham

1 cup rinsed and drained reduced-sodium cannellini beans

2 cups canned, reduced-sodium diced tomatoes, including their juice

1 cup sliced celery

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 cup water

½ cup acini di pepe

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided use

½ cup fresh basil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Cut ham into ½-inch cubes and set aside. Add the beans, canned diced tomatoes with their liquid, celery, garlic, chicken broth and water to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove the cover and add the pasta. Return soup to a boil and cook, uncovered, for about 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked. Add the ham, olive oil and basil and remove from the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Divide between two soup bowls and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

Yield 2 servings.

Per serving: 615 calories (21 percent from fat), 14.1 grams fat (4.2 grams saturated, 6.1 grams monounsaturated), 33 milligrams cholesterol, 43.2 grams protein, 74 grams carbohydrates, 13.5 grams fiber, 1,247 milligrams sodium.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of more than 30 cookbooks, including her newest, "The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook." Listen to Linda on www.WDNA.org and all major podcast sites. Email her at LindaDinnerInMinutes.com.