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Rachael makes a white version of the classic Italian pasta + bean soup (no tomatoes!) with pancetta and escarole, topped with grated Parm + a drizzle of fruity EVOO.
"I'm making the super-ist, simplest supper—say that ten times fast!—that my family not only loves, but pretty much demands all winter long: pasta and beans, or pasta e fagioli," Rach says. Unlike the red version, the white one doesn't include tomatoes, but both have lots of layers of flavor. If you're a vegetarian, you can skip the pancetta or guanciale and substitute vegetable stock or water for the chicken stock. And for a shortcut, use canned beans instead of dried.
For more recipes that use pasta and beans, check out Minestrone Soup with Escarole, Beans and Pasta and Riggies with Greens and Beans.
*To cook borlotti or white beans, soak overnight, then drain and place in a pot. Cover with 3 inches of water and bring to a boil with halved onion and bay leaves. Season water with salt, reduce heat to keep at a low rolling boil and cook until just tender, about 40 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse. Remove onion and bay.
Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat with EVOO and add pancetta. Stir for about 2 minutes, then add fennel, onions, celery, rosemary, salt, pepper and bay leaves and soften 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, add the rind, stock and 1 quart water and bring to a boil, then add the pasta and cook 5 minutes. Add the beans, greens and nutmeg, cook 5 minutes more, then add juice of 1 lemon. Serve in shallow bowls and top with cheese. We also top with fruity EVOO, minced white onion and red pepper flakes.