Teeming with vegetables, legumes and pasta, this hearty soup is perfect for chilly nights. Great to make on a snowy day, tastes even better the next day. Designed with many non-perishable canned foods so including prep time this delish should be ready to enjoy in about one hour. Perfect for cold busy workdays or a relaxed weekend.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 4-6 oz. pancetta or 4 strips bacon or smoked ham, medium diced. Or, if using ground beef or Italian sausage, cook and drain. Omit if vegetarian- replace with 2 cups chopped kale, swiss chard or any collard greens (remove the tough ribs of the plant)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup white wine- choose the one you drink/ not cooking wine- substitute with broth or water
    6-8 cups/ 2 boxes chicken broth- substitute vegetable broth for vegetarian
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cans white kidney beans or chickpeas, or a combination of both, rinsed and drained, or 3 cups cooked beans, use your favorite\¼ cup dried lentils, rinsed, brown or green will do
  • 1 cup diced or chopped canned tomatoes, with their juice- substitute with tomato sauce or even ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp. dried
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes- omit if you are sensitive to spice
  • ¾ cup dried pasta, such as elbow macaroni (whole wheat pasta is fine) a small thick pasta works best
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving- Romano cheese will work too.
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (about ½ a lemon) for a vegetarian version

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the meat and cook until the fat begins to render about 5 minutes. If using ground meat or bacon, cook first and drain- then add olive oil as needed. Turn up the heat to medium and add onions, carrots & celery, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring constantly so the garlic does not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.

Add the wine or stock and deglaze, cook until it has evaporated, stirring constantly about 5 minutes.

Add the broth, salt & pepper, beans, lentils, diced tomatoes and fresh and dried spices. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until the lentils are tender, depending on the lentils used 15-35 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon and remove 1 cup of the cooked ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth, put aside.

Stir in the dried pasta and the chopped greens to the pot, turn up the heat to a gentle boil and cook until pasta is tender but still firm, 8-15 minutes. Stir often so the pasta does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Stir in the reserved 1 cup of pureed bean mixture back into the pot and bring whole pot temperature back to a quick boil. Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. If vegetarian version- Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Ladle into bowls and top with a drizzle of olive oil and additional cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6

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