This hearty soup is one of my favorites and a staple in many regions around Italy. Make this during the week for a quick 30 minute dinner! Classically termed a "peasant" meal because it's made with staple ingredients, that title does not sell this soup short. It feels like a warm home :)
3 Tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 cup carrots, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 oz pancetta or 3 sliced of bacon, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, mined
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 15 oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can of crushed Marzano tomatoes
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1½ cups ditalini or any other short pasta
3 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
3 Tablespoons pecorino-romano cheese, grated
In a large pot or dutch oven, add the olive oil and pancetta over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until crispy, and remove form the pot with a slotted spoon, about 5 minutes.
Add the onion to the fat and season with a pinch of salt. Cook the onions until they're translucent, about 2 minutes. Turn the heat to medium high and add the carrots and celery, cooking until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
To the vegetables, add in the chopped garlic and chili flakes and cook for about 30 seconds until nice and fragrant. Add the can of crushed tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes, so everything can come together and the vegetables can soften.
Place 1/2 cup of the cannellini beans in a small bowl and using the back of a fork, mash the beans into a paste. Add this paste to the soup and it will create a thickening effect.
Add in the chicken stock and 2 cups of water and bring the pot to a boil, season with salt and pepper.
Once boiling, add in your pasta and cook just until al dente according to the pasta instructions.
When the pasta is al dente, add the remaining beans and cook until they're warmed through.
Serve the soup into bowls and top with your pancetta, chopped basil, grated pecorino-romano cheese, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil!