Pasta e fagioli is a well-loved bean stew from the northeast region of Italy, where Venetians adore the speckled pink and white cranberry bean, “pasta fazool” is a classic. And as is the case with many hearty dishes, this soup was born from necessity, of stretching the lira and the larder to feed hungry mouths just one more day. That’s amore.
See Cook’s Note on using dried beans instead of canned.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until fat has rendered and it begins to crisp, 6 to 10 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, 3 to 7 minutes. Season with the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and sage, then add the celery and carrots. Cook until vegetables have softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for 1 minute then add in the tomato paste, cooking for 1 minute more. Stir in the chicken broth, beans, diced tomatoes and Parmigiano rind if using. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Add the pasta, cover and cook until al dente.
Ladle into low bowls, and sprinkle with parsley and grated Parmigiano Reggiano before serving with bread alongside.
If you prefer dried beans to canned, about ¾ cup of dried beans, soaked and cooked, will yield about the same as a 14.5-ounce can.