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).
Servings: 8 to 10
- 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)
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.