Today's recipe might be a little confusing, because it's obviously Italian and I'm just home from a wonderful trip to France, not Italy. But after spending ten days feasting on amazing pastries like the ones at the left, you can understand that I need to eat homey, plain food for a while to let my system catch up. One of the funny things we noticed about the French (besides the incredible pastries and bread and the smoking--you would not believe how many people smoke!), was the dearth of green vegetables. Even my husband announced one day that in the course of three meals, nothing green had passed his lips..
So this soup doesn't have green veggies in it either, but it's relatively low on fat and full of fiber and delicious comfort food for a fall night. Serve it with a green salad and maybe some biscuits or good bread, and you've got supper!
4-5 slices bacon, chopped
1 sprig rosemary, left intact
1 large fresh bay leaf or 2 dried bay leaves
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2-3 carrots, finely chopped
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
Coarse salt and pepper
1 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 quart chicken stock
1 1/2 cups ditalini pasta (I forgot to buy this so you see ziti)
1 chunk Parmesan rind for soup (optional)
Grated Parmesan or Romano, for the table
Brown the bacon. Remove from pan, drain and crumble. Next, add the olive oil to the pan. Over medium heat, saute the bay leaf, rosemary, chopped vegetables, and garlic until soft. Season vegetables with salt and pepper. Remove to a large soup pan.
Add tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and simmer. Add the beans and the chunk of Parmesan rind if desired and simmer. (The rind is not necessary but it adds flavor and it's fun to come across the gooey, tasty mass at the bottom.) At this point, you may want to refrigerate the soup overnight for more flavor.
Bring the soup back to simmer and cook the ditalini separately until just tender, then add to the pot. Or dish the pasta into bowls and ladle the soup over top. Garnish with the crispy bacon and serve with freshly grated cheese and crusty bread or biscuits and definitely, a green salad. Bon appetit or buon appetito! (You know what I mean:)
Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries. MURDER WITH GANACHE will be out in February, but you can pre-order it now.
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