I was over visiting Tina at The Enchanted Home recently and saw this recipe for a minestrone soup: “Pasta e Fagiole Soup”. There are so… many out there, but this, I have to say, is one of the best I’ve ever made! It’s quick and easy and really really good!

Pasta e Fagiole Soup
  • 2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 pound (about 4 slices) pancetta, chopped (I do not chop it, it naturally falls apart while cooking)
  • 1 (4 to 6-inch) sprig thyme with several sprigs on it, left intact ( I have often left this out if I haven’t had it and its fine)
  • 1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves (I use 3 fresh)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans
  • 1 cup canned tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes or fresh tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups ditalini
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Grated Parmigiano or Romano, for the table
Heat a deep pot over medium high heat and add oil and pancetta. Brown the pancetta bits lightly, and add herb stems, bay leaf, chopped vegetables, and garlic. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Add beans, tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and raise heat to high. Bring soup to a rapid boil and then simmer. Rosemary and thyme leaves will separate from stems as soup cooks. Remove herb stems and bay leaf from soup and place pot on table on a trivet. At this point, once you have removed your pot from heat, set aside and then put in your pasta. The heat will naturally cook the pasta but just perfectly, not too hot..and will result in a soup with al dente pasta as it should be. Is anything worse than a great soup with mushy pasta? Let soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and top with lots of grated cheese. Serve with bread and enjoy……this is a real treat!

My notes: 
  •  I used an entire package of pancetta: 4 oz. and it worked beautifully!
  • I used dried thyme.
  • I forgot to add the water… and all was fine. In fact, it would have been very thin soup had I added it.
  • I used a marinara sauce, not canned tomatoes.
  • I cooked my pasta separately and then added to the pot.
  • Tina doesn’t say how long to cook: I simmered for maybe 30 minutes. Fast and easy, right?
This is one good soup! Really, it has so much taste and mine was just the right consistency. I think the secret is in the pancetta… so if you’re a vegetarian, well, you’re out of luck on this one.
Thank you Tina!

P.S. I have a REALLY GREAT cookie recipe coming next week. An unusual take on the traditional chocolate chip!