Pasta and Bean Soup
From Cook's Country
Traditional pasta and bean soup recipes start by cooking dried beans for hours in either water or broth to create a rich, flavorful base. Because we wanted to streamline our Pasta and Bean Soup recipe by using canned beans and store-bought broth, we knew that we’d have to get a lot of flavor out of the meat and vegetables. To do this, we started our Pasta and Bean Soup with hearty and fully seasoned hot Italian sausage, which gave it just the right amount of meaty, spicy flavor. Sautéing the vegetables in the sausage drippings (along with a bit of oil) built even more flavor. A can of diced tomatoes tasted better, and required less effort, than fresh tomatoes, since the juices had a bright flavor. To create body, we pureed half the beans with a portion of the broth prior to cooking—this gave a thick, creamy texture without the hassle of pureeing hot soup in a blender. Cooking the pasta separately before adding it to the soup at the end of cooking prevented the pasta from absorbing too much liquid and becoming bloated.
Serves 6 to 8
If you cannot find hot Italian sausage, use the sweet variety and add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the soup along with the garlic and rosemary in step 2. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.
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