Soup isn't usually one of those foods where I lack self control. That unfortunate characteristic is usually reserved for foods like brownies, risotto, and macaroni and cheese. Ya know, health food. With soup I can usually have a small bowlful for dinner with a salad or some crusty bread, feel satisfied, and call it a night. However, with this soup I really just want to sit on the floor with the pot in my lap, and eat it straight from the ladle like a weirdo. It is SO good. With ingredients like bacon, garlic, pasta shells, and Parmesan cheese would you expect any less?
Little by little it's getting cooler here in Virginia, and this was a perfectly delicious, perfectly cozy fall dinner for the past couple nights. This was my first time making this soup, and I can already tell that it is going to become a fall and winter staple for me!
The original recipe called for either bacon or pancetta. I really wanted to use pancetta but my grocery store was regrettably out. Thanks a lot Whole Foods. I recommend using the pancetta over the bacon if you can find it, because it is extremely difficult to mince bacon. I never noticed how slippery it was until I attempted to cut it into tiny little pieces. There was a lot of cursing, and I almost threw a handful of bacon at the wall in a fit of rage, which really would have only been hurting myself.
This soup is very thick when it's leftover - it becomes more stew like. Feel free to add up to 2 cups more broth if you want it soupier.
Here's what you'll need:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 slices of bacon, minced
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
Large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and black pepper
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 1/4 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta shells
Parmesan cheese and finely chopped Italian parsley, for garnish
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the bacon and onions, and saute for 8 minutes. Add the garlic, and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low, and pour in the tomatoes (with their juices), sage, and spices. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the broth and beans, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pasta to the soup, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes, until the pasta is al dente. Garnish with cheese and parsley, and serve immediately.
Makes about 10 cups of soup.
Source: Adapted from Shutterbean, originally from the Williams Sonoma Beans & Rice Cookbook