2 cups dried beans, cranberry,
cannellini, or Great Northern
3 tablespoons olive oil
˝ cup chopped pancetta
1 chopped yellow onions
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks chopped celery
4 large cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken broth
1˝ cups canned plum tomatoes, diced
2 teaspoons salt, plus salt to taste
ground pepper, to taste
˝ pound small dried pasta, shells or ditalini
extra virgin olive oil, for serving
grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Pick over the beans and discard any misshapen beans or stones.
Rinse the beans, drain, and place in a saucepan. Add water to
cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 2 minutes, then
remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour. Drain.
In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the
pancetta and sauté, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté, stirring often,
until softened, about 8 minutes longer. Add the water or stock,
beans, tomatoes, and 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Cover,
reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the beans are very tender,
about 1 hour.
To give the soup more body, remove 2 large spoonfuls of beans and
vegetables and puree in a blender or food processor, then return the
puree to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and reheat gently.
When the soup is almost ready, bring a large saucepan three-fourths full
of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir well, and cook
until barely al dente, about 8 minutes or according to package
directions. Drain and add to the soup. Simmer for an
additional 5 minutes.
To serve, ladle into warmed bowls. Top each serving with a swirl
of extra- virgin olive oil, some grated Parmesan cheese, and a liberal
grinding of pepper.