Pasta e Fagioli
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 4 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, finely diced
- 2 medium ribs celery, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans cannelloni beans or chickpeas (or combination), rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup dried lentils, rinsed (preferably French green lentils, but any green or brown lentils are fine)
- 1 cup diced or chopped canned tomatoes, with their juices
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 3/4 cup dried pasta, such as elbow macaroni or ditalini (whole wheat is fine)
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat begins to render, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot and celery and increase the heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
Add the wine and cook until it has nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, salt, pepper, beans, lentils, diced tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender, 15-30 minutes, depending on the type of lentils you used.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer 1 cup of the bean mixture and a little liquid to a blender. Remove the center knob so steam can escape. Hold a paper towel or kitchen towel over the opening to prevent splatters. Purée until smooth and set aside.
Add the dried pasta to the pot and stir to incorporate. Turn the heat up to a gentle boil and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on the type of pasta you used. The soup will thicken a bit by the time the pasta is cooked. Fish out and discard the bay leaves.
Stir the reserved puréed bean mixture into the soup. (If you're having a hard time getting the mixture out of the blender, remove as much as you can with a rubber spatula, then add some of the hot soup broth to it and swirl around to loosen it up; it should come right out.) Cook briefly, until the soup is heated through.
Remove the soup from heat and stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano. If the soup seems too thick, gradually add 1-2 cups of water or more chicken broth and thin to desired consistency (note: the longer it sits on the stove, the thicker it will get). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle each portion with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with more cheese, if desired.
Note: This soup is best served immediately; as it sits, the pasta and beans soak up the broth. If the soup gets too thick, you can thin it with a bit of broth or water.
Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen, without the pasta, for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until simmering, add the pasta, and cook until the pasta is tender. (The beans may have soaked up some of the broth while frozen, so add more broth to thin out the soup, if desired.)