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PASTA e FAGIOLI
There must be dozens of versions of this lovely warm and comforting dish, but this seems to be the best one with the best flavors and consistency. This soup (closer to a stew) is eaten almost weekly in Italy because it's cheap, easy and delicious. It also has plenty of slang-y names, including "pasta fazoo"!
Serves: 6

8 ounces cannellini beans or great northern beans -- washed and sorted
4 ounces pancetta or bacon -- diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion -- chopped
1 medium carrot -- diced
2 cloves garlic -- minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 can diced tomatoes with juice (15 oz.)
2 cups chicken broth (+ water if needed)
1 cup uncooked small ebow maaroni or ditalini
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place beans into a Dutch oven, covered with water by 1 inch; bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes. Cover; remove from heat and let stand 2 hours. Drain and set aside. (NOTE: As an alternative, 2 cans of cannellini beans or great northern beans, drained and rinsed, can be used.)

In a large skillet, saute pancetta or bacon in olive oil until lightly browned and crisp. Add onions, carrots and garlic; season with a little salt and pepper, and cook over medium-low heat until soft but not browned. Stir in oregano, basil and red pepper flakes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the reserved beans, and the chicken stock, plus enough water to cover the mixture; bring just to a boil. Lower heat; partially cover and simmer 1-1/2 to 2 hours (10-15 minutes if using canned beans), or until beans are tender. Stir in pasta; return to a boil; partially cover and simmer 12-15 minutes or until pasta is done. (Additional water may be needed if a soupier consistency is desired.)

Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with parsley, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Copyright 2001 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved