Pasta Fagioli a warming Winter soup from Italy

This classic comes in a thousand variations, and is just waiting for your imagination to make it 1 001! Here beans, chicken stock, pasta, pancetta and wine come together to banish the gloom of winter.

Pasta Fagioli a warming Winter soup from Italy
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To make this classic winter soup for four hungrydiners, you will need:

  • 800g steak
  • 1 500ml chicken stock
  • 120ml dry white wine
  • 120g pancetta
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 120g penne pasta
  • 40g freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus a little extra per serving
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped origanum
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • 30ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus a light drizzle extra per serving

Like bacon, pancetta is made from pork belly. However, unlike bacon, it is unsmoked. If
hard to find, bacon is a second class substitute as the smoked flavour tends to dominate.

1 Dice the vegetables and the pancetta into small cubes. Peel and finely chop the garlic.

2 Select a large, heavy-based pot, pour in 30ml extra-virgin olive oil and bring this up to low medium heat. Add the pancetta (or bacon) and let it render partially for five minutes.

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Turn the heat to medium, and tip in the diced celery, onion, garlic and carrot. Stir
continuously to prevent adhesions. When the onions are soft and translucent, pour in the wine and let it bubble away for five minutes.

3 Pour in the stock. Drain the canned white beans and chickpeas, then add the solids
to the pot. Add the canned chopped tomatoes and their juice to the pot, plus the salt, pepper, bay leaf and origanum.

Bring the uncovered pot to a swift rolling boil, then cut the heat back to low-medium and let the mixture cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

4 Now for the pasta. I have suggested penne, but any short, hollow pasta will work well in a dense soup like this one. Weigh the dried pasta, then add it to the contents of the pot.

Give it a good stir to evenly distribute it amongst the other ingredients, kick the heat up to allow a slow boil, and let it cook for the time indicated on the packet. Locate the bay leaf and chuck it out.

5 Add the freshly grated Parmesan cheese and stir it in. The soup will thicken a little due to the cheese and the pasta. Dilute it with a little water. Check the taste and add salt and pepper if you wish. Garnish with the chopped parsley, a gentle drizzle of olive oil and a little extra grated Parmesan. Serve with freshly baked sourdough bread.

• David Basckin is a freelance journalist and videographer.