Pasta e Fagioli
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 5 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 (14.5-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup elbow macaroni
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Wrap the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and secure closed with kitchen twine. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, pancetta, and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, beans, and sachet of herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the sachet. Puree 1 cup of the bean mixture in a blender until smooth*. Before putting the puree back into the soup, add the macaroni and boil with the lid on until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Return the puree to the remaining soup in the saucepan and stir well. Season the soup with ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.
*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.
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