"16 Bean" Pasta e Fagioli

Serves 6 Intermediate
  • 1 (1-pound) bag 16 Bean Soup Mix
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 6 ounces pancetta, ¼-inch-diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4 to 6 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade (see recipe)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup miniature pasta, such as ditalini or tubettini
  • ½ cup freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1 tablespoon good red wine vinegar
  • Julienned fresh basil leaves, for serving

The day before you plan to make the soup, place the bean mix in a large bowl, add cold water to cover by 2 inches, and refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain the beans, rinse under cold running water, and drain again. Place the beans in a large pot with 8 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally and skim off any foam that rises to the top. The beans should be very tender and the skin will peel away when you blow on a bean.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium (10-inch) stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta and onion and sauté over medium to medium-high heat for 12 to 18 minutes, until browned. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for one minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, 4 cups of the chicken stock, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper and turn off the heat.

Drain the beans and add two-thirds of them to the soup. Pass the remaining beans through a food mill, discarding the skins. Stir the bean puree and the pasta into the soup, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender. Add up to 2 more cups chicken stock if the soup is too thick. Stir in the Parmesan and the vinegar. Ladle the soup into large shallow bowls and add a swirl of olive oil, a sprinkle of Parmesan, and some basil. Serve hot with extra Parmesan on the side.

Make Ahead

Prepare the soup and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months. Add more chicken stock or water if the soup is too thick.

Copyright 2016, Cooking for Jeffrey, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved

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