Pasta e Fagioli

A truly wonderful dish, a one bowl meal with simple, yet complex flavours make this soup/stew a crowd pleaser. Pasta e fagioli is a typical Italian dish, simple and poor, which has its origins in the countryside tradition, and of which there are several regional variations. Indeed there is no official recipe for pasta and beans, but a recipe for almost every area. It may be the most national dish of Italy, present in all regions, from the Alps to the Mediterranean. The types of beans used are different according to the region and the season, as well as the types of pasta and seasonings used.
In Veneto it is often enriched with some pork bone or meat, salted and sometimes smoked. The addition of potatoes, in the tradition linked to the need to save beans, gave a good creaminess, while the celery gives it a stronger taste.
Pasta and beans will keep well in the fridge for at least 3 days. In Naples it is very popular to eat it arrepusata, that is, passed in a pan the next day. My version is perhaps not authentic, but it works a charm and is rich and comforting. Feel free to add and improvise according to what you have in the fridge.

1 Large onion diced
2 Large carrots diced
3 Celery branches diced
2 Large potatoes peeled and diced in small cubes
1 Large can of Red or White beans according to your taste
1 Large can of diced tomatoes
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1 Teaspoon Basil
1/2 Teaspoon Marjoram
1/2 Teaspoon Herbes de Provence (Optional)
1/4 Teaspoon Peperoncino
1 Cup of Ditalini Pasta
150 Gr. ground beef (optional)
150 Gr. ground pork (optional)
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese

In about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, saute the ground beef and pork until cooked through. Remove the meat and set aside. Using the same oil, saute the vegetables; carrot, onion and celery until translucent. Add a can of tomatoes, basil and oregano, peperoncino, marjoram, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Add the equivalent of two cans of water and the beans, including the juice in which they soak. Cook for about 45 minutes at medium-low heat until the soup starts to thicken. Add the potatoes and the pasta and cook for 6-7 minutes until they become al dente. Do not boil, but simmer at medium to low heat and the soup will thicken quite considerably.
Sprinkle with Pecorino cheese and serve with a piece of Focaccia.

Do not overcook the potatoes and the pasta, as it can become quite mushy, not very pleasant.
The soup freezes very well, another reason not to overcook the pasta, as it will cook again when you reheat the soup.
The soup will thicken rapidly with the addition of potato and pasta. Make sure you have enough liquid in your soup.

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