Minestra di Pasta e Fagioli


This hearty and delicious soup is so full-bodied that you only need a green salad to accompany it. The prosciutto skin is used for flavoring, and you can find it easily at the deli counter of an Italian market or supermarket (often they’ll give it to you for free). If you want to eat the prosciutto skin, cut it into strips; otherwise, leave it in one or two pieces so that you can discard it easily after the soup is cooked. Saltiness of prosciutto skin and parmigiano rinds will vary, so be sure to taste as you go. 

What you will need

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling

1 lb. pork stew meat, cut in 1/2-inch dice

1/4 lb. pancetta, cut into strips 

1/4 lb. prosciutto skin or skin from salt pork, whole or cut into strips (optional)

1 large onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 fennel bulb (about 3/4 lb.), trimmed and diced 

1 rib celery, diced

8 to 10 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken stock

1-1/2 cups dried white beans, such as cannellini (about 10 oz.)

1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas (about 1/2 lb.) 

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1 sprig fresh rosemary 

1/4 lb. Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 lb. tubetti, ditali, or other short macaroni

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for sprinkling


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