Lucas Ramsey, a major character in Somewhere Between Luck and Trust, is a gourmet cook and the author of a mystery series featuring Zenzo, a police detective whose cooking rivals Lucas’s own.
Lucas invites Georgia to share a simple meal, pasta e fagioli with shrimp, which he has devised and hopes to use in a cookbook of Zenzo’s favorite recipes. He also hopes to get to know her better.
This yummy version is adapted from several incarnations, including ones on about.com and Simply Recipes online, because Lucas, like the good chef he is, refused to share his version with me. Still, I bet this one’s close, and the shrimp is a welcome addition to this Italian classic. We love it.
I must add, too, that the first time I was introduced to Pasta Fazool was on the HBO television series, The Sopranos. The dish was a favorite of Tony Soprano’s, and seems particularly fitting to feature today after the death of James Gandolfini, who brilliantly played the part.
Pasta e Fagioli with Shrimp (aka Pasta Fazool)
- 8 oz ditalini pasta (or any small pasta appropriate for soup)
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 large carrot peeled and chopped into ½” pieces
- 1 stalk of celery chopped
- 3/4 cup dry white wine (or water)
- 2 cups vegetable stock (you may substitute chicken or seafood stock)
- 1 can chopped tomatoes drained, or 1 cup fresh, peeled and chopped.
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 can (19 oz) cannellini beans (white beans or navy beans will work, too)
- 8 to 16 oz peeled and deveined (uncooked) shrimp, bite-sized are best
- 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Cook the pasta in salted water according to directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
Meantime heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or saute pan. Stir in the onions, celery and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute.
Add wine, tomatoes and stock. Stir and bring to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender but still crisp.
Add the thyme, Italian seasoning, salt and beans. Simmer 5 minutes, then turn up the heat to a slow boil and add shrimp. Cook only until the shrimp change color, which they will do almost immediately. They’re done once they change color, unless you like your shrimp rubbery. Trust Lucas.
Stir in the pasta; taste and add more salt if needed.
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh Italian bread to sop up the juices.
Makes 3-4 good sized servings
*****To make ahead, don’t cook the pasta first. Do the remainder of the steps right up until time to add the shrimp. When you’re ready to eat, cook the pasta, then bring the soup back to a strong simmer and add shrimp. Add the pasta once the shrimp are cooked–but not overcooked. This also gives the flavors a chance to blend. Yum!
Lucas’s mother’s version is thick and rich. His grandmother’s is thin and soupy. His is somewhere in between. You can add more broth or even water at this point to make it soupier, if you prefer. We like it just as it’s written.