Autumn Soup with Pistou
- 1 (6-ounce) piece lean smoked bacon, diced
- 1 1/2 cups diced (1 medium-large) white onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 2/3 cup diced (1 medium) carrot
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves or 1/2 teaspoon, dried
- 6 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 (1-pound) cans cannellini beans, rinsed well and drained
- 3 large firm ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped or 2 (1-pound) cans tomatoes, drained and chopped
- 1 cup small pasta shells
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups packed basil leaves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt, to taste
In a soup pot or casserole cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until it is golden. With a slotted spoon transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pan and add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook over moderate heat, covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock or broth and salt and pepper to taste, bring to a boil and simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add the beans and tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the pasta and simmer the soup, covered, for 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Let stand off heat, covered, for 5 minutes.
Make the Pistou: In a small food processor or blender, combine garlic, basil, Parmesan and pepper and with machine running, add oil in a stream. Puree until well blended. Add salt to taste.
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve topped with the Pistou and accompanied by fontina and Parmesan toasts.