I have been making this soup forever, This is really just a tomato base soup with beans and pasta. How bad can that be? unless you hate beans and pasta that is. I usually have ingredients in the pantry and it is a wonderful warm experience, with a nice salad this is a perfect meal. I do use dried beans so I need to soak overnight, if you want to cheat you can just use canned beans. It is a wonderful hearty soup halfway between a soup and a pasta.
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes ( San Marzano)
10 – 12 fresh basil leaves
red pepper flakes
handful of italian parsley, chopped
5 – 6 cups cooked beans and their liquid ( I use cannellini beans usually) any type of bean will work I use Cannellini or Red Kidney beans and a combination of both is beautiful.* feel free to use canned if you don’t have time to cook the beans. ( 2 cans rinsed and drained) the canned beans work out perfectly and it’s a very quick and easy way to go.
5 cups water
app. 1 cup pasta, elbows, tubetti, ditalini, or broken spaghetti
salt and freshly ground black pepper ( I probably used about 1Tablespoon of Kosher Salt but you’ll have to taste for yourself , start with a Tablespoon and use more as needed) Pepper I just add in a few grinds of the pepper mill ( about 12) and taste , taste , taste!
In a large , heavy stockpot ( Le Creuset) saute onion in olive oil. When onion is golden and transparent, add garlic. Cook for a few more minutes. Add tomatoes and herbs. Cook until the tomatoes begin to thicken and reduce, about 10 minutes. Taste for salt.
Add the beans and their cooking liquid. (* see notes on cooking beans) Add the water. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes – until the beans begin to break down and the soup begins to thicken. Lower heat to a slow simmer, as low as you can. Stir frequently to prevent it from sticking and burning bottom of the pot. Taste for salt and pepper again. I always like it to simmer for a long time, an hour would probably do it, but if I have the time I let it sit for as long as I can. Sometimes after it’s been simmering for a while , I turn off the heat and right before serving just bring to a boil and add pasta. Just be careful not to let it burn, stir frequently . If you need more liquid add water a little at a time, I showed a picture of my pot filler which is the greatest thing to have in a kitchen, makes it super easy to fill a pot.
When you’re ready to serve, right before add the pasta and cook until pasta is al dente, about 5 – 10 minutes depending on type of pasta you’re using. I used ditalini.
Serve immediately in large soup bowls.
Guests can drizzle some good olive oil and grate some Parmesan Cheese over. Should serve 8 – 10 depending on appetites. I froze remainder for another time.
*Cooking dried Beans:
Place the beans in a bowl and cover with water – about 2″ – 3″ above the beans. Soak overnight.
Rinse and drain the beans, remove any stones, foreign matter, or beans that have not expanded.
Place the beans in a heavy pot and cover with water – about 2″ above the beans.
Bring the beans to a boil. Turn down heat, cover and cook at a very low simmer. Do not allow beans to boil hard. The beans should retain their shape. Cook until beans are tender. Cooking time will vary depending on the type of beans and how fresh they are. Plan on cooking for 2 to 3 hours.
The beans will now be ready to be used for any recipe calling for cooked beans.
If you don’t have time to soak or you just forgot, you can place beans in the pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, cover and let stand for 1 hour, and then proceed with the rest of the directions.