Somewhere between a thick soup and a loose pasta, this comforting dish is a staple in many parts of Italy. The trick to making it on a weeknight is using canned cannellini beans and quick-cooking ditalini pasta. Mash a small portion of the beans into the final broth to thicken and enrich the soup, and don’t forget about the finishing touches: crispy pancetta, fragrant fresh basil, plenty of Pecorino Romano, and a drizzle of olive oil.
What You Will Need
- Paper Towels
- Heavy Pot or Dutch Oven
- Slotted Spoon
- Serving Bowls
Time : 40 Minutes
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 slice pancetta or thick-cut ham (or substitute 2 slices bacon), finely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion (8 oz.), finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium carrots (5 oz. total), finely diced (1 cup)
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced (½ cup)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped (3 Tbsp.)
- 1 (15-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 (15-oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1½ cups (about 8 oz.) ditalini or other short, tubular pasta
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, for serving
- Grated Pecorino Romano, for serving
- Set a small paper-towel-lined plate next to the stove. In a heavy medium-large pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat, add the oil and pancetta. Cook, stirring frequently, until some of the fat has rendered and the meat is just crisp, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, quickly transfer the meat to the prepared plate and set aside. Add the onions to the pot with the fat and season with salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and a small pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the vegetables are lightly browned, 6–8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds more. Stir in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and cook until the vegetables have softened slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Using the back of a fork, mash about ½ cup of the beans well, then add them to the pot. Add the remaining beans whole, then pour in the stock and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the pasta and adjust the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, 8–10 minutes.
- Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle each with oil, and sprinkle with the reserved pancetta, basil, cheese, and more black pepper (if desired). Serve immediately.