Italian Pasta and Bean Soup with Orange and Fennel

Published March 1, 2003.

Why this recipe works:

To develop a pasta and bean soup recipe with great flavor and proper texture in less than an hour, we cooked some bacon and pancetta and then cooked our vegetables in the rendered fat. We discovered other quick flavor boosters: Adding the tomatoes and beans together allowed them to absorb… read more

To develop a pasta and bean soup recipe with great flavor and proper texture in less than an hour, we cooked some bacon and pancetta and then cooked our vegetables in the rendered fat. We discovered other quick flavor boosters: Adding the tomatoes and beans together allowed them to absorb flavor from each other; a 60:40 ratio of chicken broth to water added richness without turning our pasta and bean soup into chicken soup; a Parmesan rind gave our soup depth; and a finish of parsley and minced anchovies lent a bright final note.

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Makdes about 4 quarts, serving 8 to 10

This soup does not hold well because the pasta absorbs the liquid, becomes mushy, and leaves the soup dry. The soup can, however, be made in two stages. Once the beans are simmered with the tomatoes, before the broth and water are added, the mixture can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days. When ready to complete the soup, discard the Parmesan rind (otherwise it will become stringy), add the liquid, bring the soup to a boil, and proceed with the recipe. Ditalini and orzo are especially good pasta shapes for this variation.

Ingredients

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