Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta e Fagioli)
If pressed for time, place all the ingredients for the soup in the pot — except the pasta — and simmer until tender. (The beans still should have been soaked overnight.) Cook the pasta in the soup until al dente and serve. Whether making the quick or regular version of this recipe, you can sprinkle each serving of the soup with 1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Special tool: Food processor
Preparation time: 20 minutes (plus overnight soaking for dried beans)
Cooking time: 2 hours
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
1⁄2 cup dried cranberry beans
1⁄2 cup dried kidney beans
1⁄2 cup dried pinto beans
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cloves garlic (3 cloves peeled and crushed; 2 cloves peeled and minced)
1 sprig fresh rosemary plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh sage plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
4 quarts cold water
1 tablespoon salt
1⁄2 cup olive oil, divided
4 ounces (about 8 slices) pancetta or bacon
1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
1 leek, white part only, thoroughly rinsed and chopped
1 small celery stalk, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1⁄4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1⁄2 cup white wine
6 tablespoons tomato paste
1⁄2 pound dry short-cut pasta, such as pennette
Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the beans, picking through them to remove any pebbles.
Soak the beans overnight in a medium bowl with 5 cups cold water. Drain.
Put the beans in a large soup pot with the potatoes, crushed garlic, rosemary sprig, and sage sprig.
Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the salt and reduce the heat to a low boil. Cook, covered, until the beans are soft enough to crush easily between 2 fingers, about 40 to 45 minutes.
Transfer half of the bean mixture to the bowl of a food processor.
Puree until smooth. Return the bean puree to the soup pot.
Heat 1⁄4 cup olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the pancetta, minced garlic, chopped rosemary, chopped sage, onion, leek, celery, carrot, and red pepper flakes.
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and the mixture just starts tobrown, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Add the wine to the vegetables and cook until the liquid is completely absorbed, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the contents of the skillet to the soup pot with the beans.
Add the tomato paste. Stir to combine. Bring the soup mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to maintain a low boil. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the pasta to the soup. Cook for another 8 to 12 minutes (depending on the cooking time of the pasta; check package instructions).
Adjust the consistency of the soup as desired, adding up to 2 more cups of water. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Serve the soup hot, drizzled with remaining 1⁄4 cup olive oil.