I remember my first bowl of pasta e fagioli with a small but lovingly loud Italian family. The soup was thick, tomato-y, and wonderfully pungent with garlic. While many recipes vary between using a tomato base or a stock base, both are used in this recipe.
Notes: While I cooked the beans ahead of time for this recipe, feel free to substitute dried beans for 4 15-ounce cans of beans (drain before use). Also, while historically a meatless meal, sausage and bacon are added to this particular recipe. Feel free to substitute it for ground turkey, beef, or no meat at all. It’s great either way. Finally, this tastes even better the next day.
4 ounces bacon
2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
1 pound Italian sausage
4 carrots, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (28oz) can tomatoes, diced
1 lb dried cannelli beans, cooked
2 cups chicken or beef stock
2 cups chicken or beef broth
1 teaspoon oregano
2 bay leaves
black pepper, to taste
1 pound ditalini
Grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
1. Dice bacon and cook in a dutch oven over medium heat until almost crisp.
2. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to drain on paper towel. Pour the bacon grease into a heat-proof bowl or mug. Add sausage to the now-empty pot and cook, breaking up with spatula, until brown. Remove sausage from pot, placing it in a bowl and setting it aside for now.
3. To now-empty pot, add reserved 2 tablespoons bacon grease, onions, carrots, and celery. Saute for 2-3 minutes until just starting to brown. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add sausage back to the pot.
3. Stir in canned tomatoes, beans, stock, broth, oregano, bay leaves, and pepper.
4. Bring soup up to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes. Add pasta and simmer for additional 8 minutes. If you like a thinner soup, add a little water. If you like it thicker, simply mash some extra beans and add them to the pot.
5. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with freshly grated parmesan.