This classic Italian soup combines two of our favorite things—beans and pasta—in a rich broth, making it a complete meal. Smoky pancetta and bright tomato paste perfume the soup, thickened only by the beans and pasta cooked in it. Though it's typically made with ditalini pasta, we used small shells to scoop up all of the rich flavor, but feel free to use any small pasta your heart desires.
Soaking dried beans overnight is important so that they're nice and tender—but should you forget, you can do a quick soak. Bring the beans in a pot of cold water to a boil. As soon as it boils, remove it from the heat and let it sit for one hour. Drain the beans and continue with the recipe as is.
Pasta e Fagioli
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus overnight soaking
Cook Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes, plus overnight soaking
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 ounces pancetta, minced
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups dried white beans, soaked overnight
10 cups chicken stock
1 cup small pasta shells
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Grated Pecorino Romano, for garnish
1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, carrot, celery and onion, and cook until golden brown, 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, rosemary and garlic, and cook until the tomato paste is caramelized and the rosemary and garlic are fragrant, another 2 minutes.
2. Drain the soaked beans and add to the pot along with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 45 to 50 minutes. Add the pasta and cook another 10 minutes.
3. Stir in the sage and season with salt and pepper. Divide the soup between bowls and garnish with whole sage leaves and grated cheese. Serve.