White Bean Soup with Carrots, Leeks, and Peas

White Bean Soup with Carrots, Leeks, and Peas

Quite a few years ago, a friend was visiting the farm, and he offered to cook dinner while I was out doing the afternoon chores. He was very excited to share this old fashioned Italian soup he had been making recently. It was delicious and we all loved it and the kids especially liked adding the olive oil and the pancetta and the Parmagiano at the table. People are always amazed at how my kids eat ( and have always eaten ) just like adults, and I’m sure it’s because of my joy in cooking and sharing that with them and also involving them in whatever way I can.  Anyway, I of course have modified the recipe over time- adding pasta to make it more of a satisfying one pot meal for families and substituting peas for the original kale. It’s a great, hearty soup for chilly Autumn evenings!

makes about 16 cups ( great for freezing! )

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
1 pound carrots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
freshly ground black pepper
3 15- ounce cans cannellini beans, drained, but not rinsed
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 pound pasta ( any short pasta you like is fine ), cooked al dente
5 ounces pancetta ( cooked with a little olive oil in a small skillet for about ten minutes, medium heat, until crispy )
1 cup freshly grated Parmagiano- Reggiano cheese

note: the amount of pancetta and Parmagiano is for 4-6 people to enjoy one meal 

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium- high heat. Add the carrots, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 20 minutes. Add the leeks, onion, garlic, tarragon, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add the beans and 4 cups of the stock, raise the heat back to medium- high, and cover and bring to a simmer. Par cover, lower the heat as needed, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Add the peas, pasta, the remaining 2 cups of stock, 1/2 cup of the Parmagiano, and cook for five more minutes, seasoning with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Pass the olive oil, the pancetta, and the Parmagiano at the table.