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Author Notes: Soup is the first food I think of when I need to feed a bunch on a small budget. Beans and pasta are easy to make delicious with a few inexpensive vegetables. You can add meat or not, but just a small amount of boniness adds huge amounts of flavor. This is my favorite soup for early autumn.
I lived in the Italian North End of Boston for six years. During that time I came to think of food in the Italian manner – shopping daily and formulating my menus from what was best in the market. This soup is typical of those dishes I developed during that time. To complete the meal, all it takes is a fabulous loaf of Italian-style crusty bread and a bottle of delicious Barbera d’Asti. Buon Appetito! —ChefJune
Makes 8 main course or 12-16 starter servings
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds (shelled) fresh shell (Cranberry) beans (or 1 pound dried, soaked overnight)
- 1/2 pound prosciutto end piece, chopped (bribe it from your Italian deli man!)
- 4 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade – or water)
- 2 cups cold water
- 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/3 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 16 fresh basil leaves, torn
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 pints escarole, shredded
- 1/2 pound bow tie (Farfalle) pasta
- Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until limp and translucent.
- Add everything else but the escarole to the onion mixture. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour over medium heat.
- Add 2 pounds escarole, shredded. Bring back to the boil and turn the heat off.
- Just before serving, cook 1 pound of farfalle (bowties) separately. Add to hot soup. Serve with grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese to sprinkle on top.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe for Autumn Soup
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Dish with Meat as a Flavoring
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Dirt Cheap Dinner