Ditalini Bacon Beany
from Stoned Crab
1 lb. bag navy beans
3 qt. chicken stock
1 large clove fresh garlic, minced
2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 lb. bacon, 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup white onion, 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup celery, 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup carrots, 1/2-inch dice
3 Roma seeded tomatoes, 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup red bell pepper, 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, 1/4-inch dice
2 oz. butter (1/2 stick)
2 T scallion greens, thin slice
1 oz. prosciutto ham, very thin slice
1/3 cup ditalini pasta
1/4 cup Romano cheese + extra for garnish
1/2 cup half-and-half (optional)
Pour beans into an 8-quart stockpot and add 2 1/2 quarts chicken stock. Add half the garlic and all the spices to the pot. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes and reduce heat to medium-low; cover and stir occasionally.
While the beans cook, fry the bacon to a half-crisp state, reserving the fat. Add onion, celery and carrots to pan and sauté for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and toss to mix. Set aside.
In a separate pan, sauté red and yellow peppers with remaining garlic and prosciutto ham in the butter for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add scallions and toss to mix. Set aside. (This will be the topping for the soup when serving.)
Check bean mixture for liquid, add stock as required, relax and have a glass of wine, because now the beans need to simmer for about 2 hours. Using a wire whip, stir the beans as they begin to break down and thicken. After 2 hours remove a couple of beans and pinch them. When they are soft, stir hard and add more stock if required, mashing as many beans as possible. Add the bacon vegetable mixture with the fat and stir. Cover pot and reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the ditalini and Romano cheese, cover and cook for 15 minutes. (Almost finished–just make sure the pasta is cooked the way you like it!) When finished, remove from heat, stir and set aside, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the optional cream if desired. Heat the topping mixture. Serve the soup with topping and pinch of Romano cheese. Crusty bread is a great accompaniment.
Note: The secret to this hearty soup–a wonderful cold day comfort food–is cooking the beans long enough that a wire whip macerates the beans, resulting in a creamy yet textural balance. The pasta and vegetables should be mostly whole but cooked through.
Yields about 3 quarts