Pasta e Fagioli

It's been Soupy Sundays for the past two weeks, this week featuring Pasta e Fagioli!  It was actually pretty windy and chilly all day, and this soup definitely hit the spot.  It's a great soup for a Sunday, too, because it takes less than 30 minutes to put together and you can relax and watch football the whole day!  Some people put a lot more ingredients in this soup, like celery, carrots, onions, kidney beans, spinach, etc. but in my opinion, this soup gets pasta, bacon (or pancetta), and white beans in a nice hearty tomato broth.  That's it!  Don't go crazy.  Pasta e Fagioli literally means "pasta and beans" - so leave it alone.  I'm usually known for having a laundry list of ingredients for my recipes, so it'll be nice to share a recipe that doesn't require you get your paycheck before making it.

What You'll Need:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 10 slices bacon, thick-cut, diced'
  • 2 tablespoons sherry wine
  • (1) 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 cups chicken broth, divided
  • (2) 15.5-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound ditalini pasta

1.  In a large stock pot, heat butter over medium-high heat until melted, and add bacon.  Cook bacon until no longer chewy, but not crispy.  Deglaze the pot with sherry wine, using a wooden spoon to release all the brown "bits" from the bacon off the bottom of the pot.

2.  To the pot, add crushed tomatoes, 6 cups of chicken broth, white beans, and bay leaf.  Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes to let the flavors "marinate".

3.  Finally, about 20 minutes before serving, add ditalini pasta and stir well to ensure the pasta noodles don't stick - to either the bottom of the pot, or to each other.  Add the rest of the chicken stock while the pasta is cooking, because it may suck up a lot of your broth.  Add broth until desired thickness, and let it simmer away until pasta is cooked and you are ready to serve.  Be careful not to let the pasta overcook. 

Remove bay leaf before serving, and serve with grated parmesan cheese on top, of course!


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