PASTA E FAGIOLI
- 1 medium onion, cut into 8 pieces
- 2 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 rib celery, trimmed and cut into I-inch pieces
- 1/4 pound fresh fennel (about half a small bulb), tall stalks and leaves discarded and bulb cut into cubes
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cups canned chopped tomatoes, with the juice
- 4 cups defatted chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade
- 1 cup cooked or canned (drained and rinsed) white beans, such as Great Northern, navy or cannellini
- 1/2 cup short tube-shaped pasta, such as ditalini or tubetti
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano, optional
Combine the onion, carrots, celery, fennel and garlic in a food processor and process until the vegetables are finely chopped, about 15 seconds (or finely chop by hand).
Heat the oil in a heavy 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add the chopped vegetables and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
Add the beans and pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is tender but firm" (al dente), about 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the basil and parsley.
Garnish each serving with some of the cheese, if desired. Makes 6 servings.