Pasta e Fagioli soup has always been one of my favorite comfort foods. I have worked long and hard on a recipe worthy of my childhood memories and here it is...
makes 8-10 main dish servings
1 pound dried great northern beans
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cups chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
8-10 cups chicken stock
Three 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes, with juice
3/4 pound mixed pasta, cooked al dente, and coarsely chopped (an assortment of shapes is nice)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated Locatelli Romano cheese, for serving
Place the beans in a large pot with enough cold water to cover the beans by two inches. Soak overnight for at least 14 hours.
Drain the beans, dry the pot, and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, until very tender. Add 8 cups of the chicken stock, the tomatoes, and the beans, and raise the heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat back to medium-low and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Working in batches, about 1 cup at a time, purée 6 cups of the soup in the blender until smooth. Mix the purée back into the soup in the pot. Stir in the cooked pasta, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper, and cook for 10 minutes more, uncovered, over medium-low heat, adding more stock if needed ( but keep in mind that this is supposed to be an extremely thick soup!)
Serve with a generous amount of Romano cheese.
( when reheating this soup, add about 1/4 cup of stock per serving, because the pasta absorbs a lot of liquid )