I love soup when the weather begins to cool. Here is my version of Pasta e Fagioli, using dried pinto and lima beans.
Pasta e Fagioli – my version
1 cup dried pinto beans
1/2 cup dried lima beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound sweet italian turkey sausage
1 yellow onion — chopped
2 carrots — peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks — chopped
4 large garlic cloves — minced
8 cups beef stock — or as needed
1 pint diced canned plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons salt — plus more to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper — to taste
1/2 pound favorite dried pasta
Extra-virgin olive oil — for serving
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — for serving
Pick over the beans, rinse, drain and place in a saucepan. Add water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1/2 hour. Drain.
In a Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the italian sausage and sauté, stirring about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté, stirring often, until softened, about 8 minutes more. Add the stock, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, dried herbs, vinegar, salt and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the beans are very tender, about 1 hour.
When the soup is almost ready, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir well and cook until barely al dente (tender but firm to the bite), about 8 minutes or according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta and add it to the soup.
To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Top each serving with a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil, some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a liberal grinding of pepper.