This is always a winner in its infinite iterations. Starting with the idea of “Pasta Fazool” (fazool being beans in Roman) and thinking Italian while gathering ingredients, use your imagination in combining the particular items you have on hand or that you like especially well. Here’s my rough list of ingredients:
Something porky–guanciale, bacon, sausage, any flavor of Salumi salami (but not ham which is too American, I think). If you eschew pork, leftover braised lamb or beef is good too).
Oil if you didn’t get any fat out out of the meat when you fry it Onion Garlic A bit of diced celery with leaves if you have any A diced carrot if you think it would taste good Broth or stock–about a quart A handful of chopped green leaves (spinach, chard, collards, or whatever)
Tomatoes, diced (I save frozen halves from the late summer; a cup of canned will do) A lump of pesto if you have it, or herbs–basil, oregano, thyme, bay leaf maybe; parsley.
Beans–cooked ahead; almost any dry Western Hemisphere bean will do Pasta–any will do, but I like Chioccioli, the big dumpling shaped shells Parmesan or Romano cheese Salt & pepper
Chop the meat up and toss it in a soup kettle; add a little oil if it doesn’t have any fat–bacon fat is good. Brown it gently.
Add the chopped onion, then in a while the chopped celery and carrot:
Fry them in the grease. Finally add the chunked garlic–or whole if you prefer. Add broth and the tomatoes or sauce and simmer a little.
Add a rind of Parmesan cheese if you have one.
Meanwhile cook the pasta almost al dente; drain.
Add the beans and the pasta and the chopped greens to the soup pot.
Check for salt and add what’s needed along with a generous grinding of pepper. Simmer a few minutes.
Serve in wide bowls with a generous portion of grated Parmesan or Romano. Fresh crusty bread goes well with soup.
Submitted by Eleanor the Great!