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