1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1/4 pound bacon or pancetta, chopped
1 pound ground beef
2 onions, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped very fine
4 cups chicken or turkey stock, homemade if available
One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
Two 19-ounce cans cannellini beans, well drained, divided
One 15-ounce can red kidney beans, well drained
One 14-ounce can tomatoes, seeded and chopped, liquid drained
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon dried ground thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) ditalini or other tubular pasta
1 cup cooked orzo
1 carrot, shredded
Parmigiano, as a garnish
Chopped basil, as a garnish
Place a large, heavy soup pot, over medium heat. Cook the sausage links with a small amount of water, covered, until the sausage has browned, about 10 minutes.
Remove sausages to a plate and let cool. Once cooled chop into pieces and then use a food processor to finely ground the sausage pieces. Brown the bacon/pancetta in the same pot as used for the sausage links, using a little olive oil if necessary. When the bacon/pancetta is browned, not crisped, add back to the pot the chopped sausage and ground beef, and cook until both have browned, about 15 minutes.
Next add the onions, celery, and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the stock and skim (recommend use of a gravy separator) to remove excess fat. Continue to cook at a simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.
In a food processor, blend tomato sauce with 1 cup cannellini beans until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pot then add the remaining cannellini beans, kidney beans, tomatoes and herbs. After 5 minutes, add the pasta and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the orzo and carrots and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Add more water or stock if necessary to produce a thick stew like consistency. Serve with grated Parmigiano and chopped basil.
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