Pasta e Fagioli al Tenore
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1/4 lb. bacon or pancetta, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped very fine
4 cups chicken broth
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce (low sodium)
2 (19 oz.) cans cannellini beans, well drained, divided
1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, well drained
1 (14. oz.) can tomatoes, seeded and chopped, liquid drained
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. dried ground thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 tsps. dried basil
1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) ditalini or other tubular pasta
1 cup cooked orzo
1 carrot, shredded
Parmigiano and chopped basil for garnish
Place a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Cook the sausage links with a small amount of water, covered, until the sausage has browned, about 10 minutes.
Remove sausages to a plate and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, chop into pieces and grind in a food processor.
Brown ground beef in the same pot as was used for the sausage. Drain fat and set meat aside.
Fry bacon/pancetta in the pot, cooking until browned but not crisp. The pancetta may need a little olive oil to keep it from sticking/burning. Drain on paper towels and return to pot along with the sausage and ground beef. Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes.
Add the onions, celery, and garlic to the meat mixture. Cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the chicken broth and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, blend tomato sauce and 1 cup cannellini beans until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pot and add remaining cannellini beans, kidney beans, canned tomatoes, and herbs. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the ditalini pasta and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Add the cooked orzo and shredded carrot; simmer for an additional 10 minutes or so.
Add more water or broth if necessary to produce a soupier consistency.
Serve with grated Parmigiano and chopped basil.
Yield: 8 servings
Notes: The original recipe calls for 2 onions, but that seemed like a bit too much for my taste, so I only use 1. Great Northern or Navy beans may be substituted for the Cannellini. I don't care to grind the sausage too finely. I prefer it a bit chunky.
This is delicious with crusty hot bread and a Caesar salad on the side.
Adapted from Food Network, Calling All Cooks - Michael J. Begley