Throughout Tuscany, and indeed, all of Italy, Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and bean soup) is served. Delightful on a winter’s day, this hearty soup is easy to make. For a vegetarian version, omit the pancetta.
4 tablespoons of olive oil
3 small garlic cloves, minced
2 ounces of finely chopped pancetta
One 16-ounce can of Italian plum tomatoes, crushed, in sauce
½ teaspoon of dried basil
½ teaspoon of dried oregano
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, or one tablespoon dried
One 15-ounce can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
8 ounces of small elbow macaroni.
Salt and pepper to taste (to spice it up, add ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes)
Grated Parmigianino Reggiano cheese
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat; add pancetta and brown, about 5 minutes. Then add garlic and sauté until golden, less than 2 minutes should do. Stir in tomatoes and cook 5 minutes. Add parsley, basil and oregano and simmer until tomatoes are soft, stirring occasionally. Add beans and cook for another 10 minutes. Do not boil, maintain medium heat. When ready to serve, add cooked pasta and mix. Serve with grated cheese sprinkled generously on top.