Pasta e Fagioli is a classic Italian soup made with pancetta, beans, and a small pasta. This version includes a prepackaged 15 dried soup mix where the beans are cooked separately and then added to a rich tomato, red wine, and chicken stock. This is a true comfort food soup.
1 (1 lb.) bag 15 bean soup mix (discard seasoning packet)
2 T. Basil infused olive oil
6 oz. pancetta, 1/4 inch dice
1 large onion, chopped
1 T. minced garlic (3 - 4 cloves)
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 cup dry red wine
4 - 6 cups chicken stock
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup miniature pasta (orzo, ditalini or tubettini)
1/2 cup freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
1 T. Sicilian Lemon white balsamic vinegar
Julienned fresh basil leaves
The day before you plan to make the soup, place the bean mix in a large bowl, add cold water to cover by 2 inches and refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain the beans, rinse under cold running water and drain again.
Place the beans in a large pot with 8 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Stioccasionallyly and skim off any foam that rises to the top. The beans should be very tender.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium (7-quart) Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta and onion and saute over medium to medium-high heat for 12 - 18 minutes, until browned. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for one minute.
Add the tomatoes, wine, 4 cups of the chicken stock, 1 T. salt, and 1 t. black pepper and turn off the heat.
Drain the beans and add thwo-thirds of them to the soup. Mash the remaining beans with a potato masher. stir the bean puree and the pasta into the soup, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 - 30 mintues, stirring occasionally until the pasta is tender.
Add up to 2 more cup of chicken stock if the soup is too thick.
Stir in the Parmesan and Sicilian Lemon balsamic vinegar.
Ladle the soup into large shallow bowls and add a swirl of Basil olive oil, a sprinkle of Parmeasan and some of the basil. Serve hot with extra Parmesan on the side.
Adapted from Food Network Magazine Vol. 10, No. 2