A Better Fridge Soup
Put some kimchi and sausage in your pasta e fagioli
Spring may be just a few short weeks away, but it’s still cold, and it is therefore still soup season. There are times — usually after I’ve gone through the choice cuts of my farmer’s market haul and only the scraps remain — where my dinner consists of broth, vegetables, and some sort of grain or protein simmered in a dutch oven. Sometimes this is just “soup,” in the perfectly average sense of the word. But sometimes the output is a bit unexpectedly magical.
I found this to be the case recently for a pot of pasta e ceci with kimchi, collard greens and andouille sausage. There’s nothing all that new about mixing Korean and Cajun (or, more broadly, Southern American) flavors; it’s been done in New York at restaurants like Kjun, and it’s fairly central to the work of Kentucky-based chef Edward Lee, who I’ve followed for a while since his excellent Mind of a Chef season. The combination just works, as anybody who has ever made collard greens with kimchi knows.
However, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it works with a traditional pasta e ceci or pasta e fagioli. Fortified with plenty of tomato paste, chunks of andouille sausage, and a small dab of gochujang, it’s a deeply flavorful soup; the funk of fermented cabbage and hearty, vegetal collards do a great job at absorbing all of the brick-red savory heat. I used tubettini and chickpeas for this one, but any kind of small pasta and bean variety will do. And if you want to add some extra heft to an already-substantial bowl, some torn focaccia is a nice touch.