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Pasta e Fagioli

Why this recipe works: From America's Test Kitchen: "Most versions of pasta e fagioli are bland and mushy, and take hours to prepare. We wanted to get it all- great flavor and proper texture without taking all afternoon. We started by cooking some pancetta (bacon works well too) in a Dutch oven, then cooked our vegetables in the rendered fat. Adding the tomatoes and beans together allowed them to absorb flavor from each other, and a 3:2 ratio of chicken broth to water added richness. We knew that adding a Parmesan rind to the pot would give our soup depth and a slight cheese flavor throughout (the rind can be replaced with a 2-inch chunk of cheese).
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Main
Servings: 8 to 10
Author: America's Test Kitchen, with a couple of additions and changes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ounces pancetta or 3 slices bacon chopped fine
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • 1 medium sized carrot peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 celery rib chopped fine
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 anchovy fillets rinsed and minced or 1 tablespoon anchovy paste (to taste)
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind
  • 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup elbow pasta
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese grated for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the bacon and lean ground beef and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain just a little of the fat if needed (depending on how lean your ground beef is). Stir in the onion, carrots and celery and cook until vegetables are softened, for about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and anchovy paste and cook until fragrant, for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Stir in tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits. Add Parmesan rind and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, for about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the chicken broth, water and 1 teaspoon salt. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, for about 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Discard Parmesan rind. Off heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.