My in-laws arrive today. Now for some people, they might groan and moan about that prospect. Me? I'm a lucky one. I love my in-laws. My father-in-law is a retired Colonel in the Air Force. My husband had me terrified to meet him the first time...then, a few glasses of wine later...we hit it off big time. I think he finds me amusing. My mother-in-law is a Mary Kay rep...and to her dismay, I didn't join the ranks. (not my thing) But she's great at what she does (earned a free car!). She's a lot of fun and the girls have a blast with her. So, yeah, we're totally stoked they're here to visit. :)
My father-in-law loves Italian food. (I knew I loved that guy!) Since I am making a nice big Tuscan spaghetti on Friday, I thought I would keep with the flavors but make a nice soup. I've already made two different versions of pasta e fagioli, but never one that doesn't even feature tomatoes! However, the reviewers raved about it. And it's Giada, the woman knows true Italian food! This will be a wonderful dinner to sit down and visit with each other.
Okay, so this doesn't look totally appealing, but let me tell you, this is SO good...the flavors are amazing. Great soup, doubled the recipe and there still weren't any leftovers.
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 5 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 (14.5-ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup elbow macaroni
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Wrap the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and secure closed with kitchen twine. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, pancetta, and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, beans, and sachet of herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the sachet. Puree 1 cup of the bean mixture in a blender until smooth*. Before putting the puree back into the soup, add the macaroni and boil with the lid on until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Return the puree to the remaining soup in the saucepan and stir well. Season the soup with ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with some Parmesan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil just before serving.
*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.