The name of this dish is quite literal, as it translates from Italian to “pasta and beans”. It originated as a peasant dish, since it uses just a few humble ingredients relying on beans and pasta as the filler for a hearty meal.
A sofrito base (the Italian term referring to mirepoix or carrots, celery and onions) is sautéed to develop a fragrant base for this “brothy” soup filled with cranberry beans, pancetta and pasta. The name of this dish is quite literal, as it translates from Italian to “pasta and beans”. It originated as a peasant dish, since it uses just a few humble ingredients relying on beans and pasta as the filler for a hearty meal.
Cranberry beans are named for their appearance – white with splotches of pink all over which sadly don’t remain through the cooking process. They’re a rich and creamy bean but are not always readily available.
These heirloom beans can be subbed for another small white bean, as the soup is traditionally made from cannellini beans. I prefer to use dried beans in this recipe since canned beans often break down more in the cooking process.
For a vegetarian alternative, omit the pancetta and substitute the chicken stock with vegetable stock.
Soak cranberry bean in a medium bowl covered with water overnight.
Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown all over but not hard, about 6 minutes. Then add the carrot, celery and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender about an additional 6 minutes. Add the garlic continuing to sauté until the garlic is fragrant, about an additional 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, 4 cups of water and bay leaves. Drain the beans then add to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil then lower heat to medium-low and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.
Add the kale and pasta, stirring to combine and cooking until the pasta is just al dente and the kale has wilted, about 6 minutes. The pasta will continue to cook in the hot broth.
Ladle the soup into soup bowls and top with grated Parmesan. If the pasta soaks up too much of your broth, just add an additional cup of water.
DID YOU MAKE THIS?
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