Back in the Northeast, you’ll hear this classic soup name pronounced all kinds of ways. “Pasta fazhool” was the version I heard most. No matter how you say it, though, it’s still one of my favorites. Remember, the ingredient list here will give proportions, but you can’t really mess up soup. So add more or less as you like. (Except for the pasta – too much pasta will make it very starchy. Thin it with more broth if that happens.)
- 4 oz. or about 1/3 lb. pancetta (Italian bacon, sold at many grocery store deli counters)
- 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
- carrots, onion, celery (or, mirepoix, if you’re fancy like that)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 48 oz. chicken broth
- 32 oz. garbanzo beans (or substitute with red or white kidney beans)
- 1/4 cup lentils
- 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 tbsp. rosemary
- 2-3 bay leaves
- salt, pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup ditalini (or other small pasta)
- grated parmesan or romano cheese
- Sauté the pancetta in the oil until the fat starts to render.
- Add the mirepoix and cook until soft.
- Add the wine – let simmer until it’s almost evaporated.
- Add everything else except the pasta and cheese, and simmer in a covered pot for as long as you like (I usually try for at least an hour, tho.) Covering the pot helps keep the liquid from evaporating.
- Optional: Some people like to scoop a bit out and put it in a food processor to make a thick paste. When you add this back into the pot, it will help make the whole soup much thicker. I prefer a regular soup but thicker is an option and it’s sometimes served this way in restaurants.
- About 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat, put the pasta in and cook until soft.
- Top with a lovely imported cheese (typically sheep’s milk)