Makes 8 – 10 servings
You can make a vegetarian version of this simply by switching to a vegetable stock and eliminating the pancetta. And if you also leave out the Parmigiano, it’s vegan!
1 cup elbow macaroni, tubetti, or other small pasta shape
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for tossing the pasta and drizzling on top
6 cups chicken stock
¼ lb pancetta, ¼ inch thick slices cut into ½ inch wide strips
6 garlic cloves, cut in half lengthwise
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 tbs finely chopped rosemary or thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried
1 14 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
4 cups diced zucchini (or mixed green and yellow squash)
2 cups peeled, diced Idaho potatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain thoroughly, toss very lightly with olive oil to prevent sticking, and reserve.
Warm, but do not boil, the chicken stock in a large saucepan.
In another large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat ¼ cup of olive oil over high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the pancetta. Cook it until it begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to medium, and add the onions, celery and carrots.
Cook until the vegetables are soft but not browned, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the herbs, raise the heat to high, and add the beans, tomatoes, zucchini and potatoes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 12-15 minutes, skimming any foam off the top of the soup. Just a few minutes before serving, add the cooked pasta. Season with pepper and salt to taste.
Serve immediately with extra olive oil for drizzling and the grated Parmigiano.