Pasta e fagioli

As part of the new regime of unpredictable blogging, I now present my recipe for pasta e fagioli, devised a few weeks ago when I couldn’t find exactly the recipe that I wanted, mostly because none of them were simple enough. (What follows is roughly speaking a variation on this old Bon Appétit recipe, supplemented by cribbings from others.)


Serves 4 people (or, 2 people and 2 servings of leftovers)


  • 4 tablespoons everyday olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 ounces ditalini (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • fresh basil (a generous handful), sliced
  • some nice olive oil


  1. In a big soup pot, cook the diced onion in the everyday olive oil over medium-high heat until it just starts to brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the carrot and cook for another 7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, oregano, beans, and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring a few times.
  5. Add the ditalini and cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Turn off the heat, and let it stand for a few minutes. When the soup is no longer steaming but while it’s still hot, stir in the Parmesan and basil, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in individual bowls, with a half teaspoon of nicer olive oil drizzled on each serving.

The divine inhumanity of barbecue

Cain offered God vegetables, Abel offered meat, and God liked meat better. Byron was a sometime vegetarian, and in Byron’s play Cain, the hero scorns meat-eating with heretical, high-Romantic passion. He threatens to knock over Abel’s altar, “with its blood of lambs and kids, / Which fed on milk, to be destroyed in blood.”

When Abel protests that God has found pleasure “in his acceptance of the victims,” Cain bitterly replies:

His pleasure! what was his high pleasure in
The fumes of scorching flesh and smoking blood,
To the pain of the bleating mothers, which
Still yearn for their dead offspring? or the pangs
Of the sad ignorant victims underneath
Thy pious knife?

The first militant vegetarian?