Prep 1 hr 30 mins
Cook 1 hr 25 mins
In 'Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen' by Lidia Bastianich
- 1 lb dried cannellini beans
- 6 quarts water
- 3 large idaho potatoes, peeled (about 1 3/4 lb.)
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 12 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips (about 1 cup)
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded (about 1 cup)
- 2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, crushed, with their liquid (preferably San Marzano)
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 lb ditalini (or 3 cups elbow pasta)
- freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- Cold soak or quick soak the beans: Cold soak-dump beans into a 2-3 quart container; pour in enough water to cover by at least 4 inches; let soak in a cool place at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours; drain thoroughly. Quick soak-place beans in a large saucepan, covering them generously with cold water; bring to a boil; boil 1 minute before removing from heat; let stand uncovered 1 hour; then drain.
- Pour 6 quarts water into a tall, large (at least 10 quart) pot.
- Add the drained beans, potatoes, rosemary, and bay leaves.
- Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, then adjust the heat to a gentle boil; let boil while preparing the sauteed vegetables, about 25 minutes.
- Process the bacon and garlic to a paste in the food processor, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the work bowl.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Scrape in the bacon-garlic paste and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
- Stir in the carrots and cook until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Pour two ladlefuls of the bean cooking water into the skillet and bring to a boil, then pour the contents of the skillet into the soup pot.
- Season lightly with salt and pepper and bring to a slow boil.
- Cook until the beans are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour after adding the vegetables from the skillet.
- Ladle about 1/3 of the beans along with enough cooking liquid to cover them, into a baking dish or other shallow container where they will cool quickly.
- Cool the beans until they are no longer steaming; process the beans and liquid in a food processor or blender until creamy; return the pureed beans to the pot.
- Fish out the potatoes onto a plate; mash them coarsely with a fork and return them to the pot.
- Cook 10 minutes to give the flavors a chance to blend.
- Let the soup rest off the heat, covered, 10-15 minutes.
- While the soup is resting, cook the ditalini in salted water until very al dente (cook all the pasta if serving the full recipe of soup, or a proportionate amount if you are setting some of the soup aside for later).
- Drain thoroughly and stir into the soup; let all rest 5 minutes, then serve in warm soup bowls, with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.