It is so cold today, snow still on the ground and more on it's way, it's a good time to put on a pot of soup. This is one of my favorite, easy, inexpensive and very filling. This is a vegetarian soup, but for those that prefer some meat, use a chicken or beef stock and add some sausage or ham. This will make a good supply of soup to have on hand.
Italian White Bean Soup with Pasta
2 cups of dried cannellini or dried navy beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 celery rib finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped
5 cloves garlic (or to taste) finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley chopped
1 14 or 15 ounce can tomatoes or fresh with juice if preferred
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup small pasta shells
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cover beans with cold water, bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover with lid. Let beans soak for one hour. Navy beans may take 2 hours. Both kind of beans can be soaked in cold water over night if preferred.
Heat oil in soup pot. Saute over medium heat, onion, carrots and celery until onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, rosemary and parsley, cook for a few minutes more.
Drain the beans and add them to the pot along with the tomatoes and 3 quarts of water or stock. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, cook covered until the beans are tender, 1 hour for cannellini, up to 2 hours for navy beans. Puree half the soup to give soup some body or leave thin.
Cook pasta in boiling salted water, then drain. Ladle the soup into bowls and add some pasta to each. Add pepper and Parmesan. The pasta is a good addition, but the soup is good alone.
Serve with green salad, crusty bread and Italian wine.
Serves 6 to 8