I’ve been making a vegetarian version of this savory Italian dish since before I fell in love with cooking. It was the one dish I made that never sucked, even my picky, must-have-meat father loved it. So even though I’m a much better cook now – I’ve never strayed from “old reliable”.
Here in the USA it’s usually the Italian-American version – a thick, tomato-based soup with beans and heavy pork flavor. I decided to investigate how they make it in old Italy (cue the cheesy tarantella). Of course then I was confronted with all the “authentic” Italian chefs and their “authentic” versions, so I gleaned all the pertinent info and put it to the test. The results were out of this world! Much lighter, creamier and with more bold and savory flavors, there’s a good chance that “old reliable” is getting put out to pasture. Not even kidding.
grated cheese for toppingpecorino romano or parmesan
Rinse and drain 2 cans of cannellini beans. Put aside.
Begin heating up a large pot of salted cold water to cook pasta in, add a few drops of olive oil. Medium heat.
Heat up your large soup pot over medium heat. Add ¼ olive oil. Once it shimmers throw in you prosciutto/pancetta. When it browns a bit add the diced onion. Cook until onion is translucent, stir occasionally. Just before onions are done, sprinkle garlic on top of onion/pork and cook 1 minute. Add minced rosemary. Cook another minute.
Turn up heat for pasta water and bring to a boil.
Take 4-5 Italian canned tomatoes and crush them with your hands in a bowl and add to the soup pot.
Add 2 cans of rinsed beans and stir. Add 3 cups chicken broth & 3 cups water. Stir.
With immersion blender – blend the soup until most of the ingredients are pureed (or mash with fork/wooden spoon).
Rinse and drain the remaining can of cannellini beans; add to soup.
Turn up heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
In the other pot add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente – according to what it says on da box. Drain in colander and rinse pasta in cold water. If you are planning to have leftovers, drizzle a little olive oil over the drained pasta (once dry) and stir.
Portion pasta into bowls and ladle soup over it. Grate cheese over soup and mix in. Crack some black pepper on there! Serve with crusty bread; salad makes a great side.
Leftovers last 3 days in the fridge in air tight containers. Oh, and it’s phenomenal when eaten cold. This soup freezes well – cool and then portion into freezable quart bags (freezes flat and takes up less room!) or containers. Label them with the date & contents – frozen soup lasts about 3 months. Note: many “authentic” cooks frown upon the use of tomato, broth and even onion. Whatever, dudes. Please enjoy!!
Music to cook by: John Patitucci “Now”
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