Pasta & bean soup


1/2 lb dried beans, such as cannelin, toscanelli or borlotti
3 med garlic cloves
1 large bay leaf
pinch of ground cloves
6 cups chicken stock
3/4 lb thin sliced lean pancetta

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup italian parsley, minced
2 cups peeled, chopped fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes, crushed
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely chopped fresh basil

1/2 lb dried egg noodles bite size pieces
1 tbsp chilled sweet butter
1/2 cup fresh ground parmesan cheese

How to prepare

Place the beans in a large saucepan. Add cold water to cover by 2″ and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let soak for 2 hours. Drain the beans and return them to the pan. Add garlic, bay leaf, cloves, 2 cups of the stock and enough water to cover by about 1 1/2″. Simmer, partially covered, until the beans are soft and beginning to fall apart, 1 to 1 1/2 hours; do not drain. Bring a medium saucepan of cold water to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, in a large non reactive saucepan, cook the pancetta in the oil over moderate heat, stirring occ., Until most of the fat has been rendered and the pancetta starts to brown. Add the onions and cook, stirring occ. Until rich, golden brown. Add the parsley and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of stock and boil until reduced to a thin film on the bottom of the pan, ab. 5 min. Add the tomatoes and simmer for ab. 8 min. Add the remaining 3 cups stock and the beans with their cooking liquid to the tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside 1 cup of the soup. Pass the rest through a food mill. Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the reserved 1 cup. The soup should be the consistency of heavy cream; thin with water if necessary. Bring the soup to a simmer, add the basil and cook for 5 min. Meanwhile, salt the boiling pasta water, stir in the pasta and cook until al dente, 3-4 min. For fresh pasta, or 8-10 min. For dried. Drain the pasta and add it to the soup. Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls. Shave small shards of the butter over each serving. Sprinkle generous spoonfuls of parmigiano-reggiano around the melting butter and serve.

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