- Olive oil (to saute the vegetables) *
- 5 stalks of celery, including leaves, cleaned with thick white end cut off, and then chopped *
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots (optional) *
- 1 onion, chopped *
- 1 big bunch of Italian parsley, cleaned, stems cut off, and chopped *
- 4 cloves garlic minced *
- Optional – 4 oz. pancetta, diced (but this takes away from the true ‘poor’ vegetarian version of this soup. My family never added pancetta)
- 3 quarts water or vegetable broth
- 1 6–oz. can imported Italian tomato paste (add more until your desired level of ‘red’ color and tomato flavor is reached). If you prefer your broth less thick, then use 2 – 3 cans of canned Italian tomatoes. We like our broth to have a richer flavor and that is imparted from tomato paste.
- 2 cans red kidney beans (I prefer dark red), drained and rinsed clean ~ ~ if you use fresh beans, they must be soaked in water overnight, rinsed and drained
2 cans cannellini beans t(hat were unavailable to my grandparents in the U.S., so they substituted red kidney beans that give the soup a much richer flavor
- 1” chunk of parmigiana cheese (for a better broth flavor)
- 1 box ditalini or mini-farfalle pasta
- Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to your preference taste.
- Freshly grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese
- Fresh, crusty, artisanal Italian bread
- * These are known as “soffrito” or the ‘fried’ base of a soup, which can be made ahead and frozen.
- If using dried beans, cover them completely with water in a pot and soak overnight.
- Drain water the next day and rinse thoroughly.
- In a large, heavy 4 – 5 quart pot, saute the “soffrito” of onion, carrots, and celery in the olive oil.
- Add the parsley and garlic and saute for one more minute.
- Fill the pot with the water and/or broth.
- Add the tomato paste/ tomatoes and bring to a boil.
- Add the chunk of parmigiana cheese.
- Add the beans, reduce the heat just slightly and cook until slightly tender.
- In a separate pot, boil the pasta for only a few minutes; you will continue to cook them for a few more minutes in the finished broth.
- Bring the broth to a boil and add the semi-cooked pasta noodles and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes max.
- Remove the soup from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Let stand 5 minutes.
- Serve in warmed bowls.
- Sprinkle with grated cheese.
- Serve with freshly, grated Parmigiano cheese and fresh, crusty Italian bread.
- THIS SOUP IS BETTER IF allowed to rest for 2 hours before serving; it thickens up nicely.
- It is even better the NEXT day when all of the flavors are allowed to marry and blend!
- If you choose to do this, boil the pasta in a separate pot for only a few minutes because it will continue to cook in the broth. Have the broth warming in another pot. Put the partially cooked pasta in the re-warmed broth and continue to cook until your pasta is al dente.
- If you have the pasta noodles in for a long time, they become very large from absorbing the soup liquid, as well as become very soft and mushy.