Preparation time is 30 minutes. Cooking time, exclusive of soaking the beans, is approximately 3 ½ hours. This recipe produces about 8 quarts of fairly thick soup. If you like it soupier, add more water before serving. I use Borlotti beans, which are also known as Cranberry Beans. However, if they are not available, use white Cannelini beans. The correct ratio of beans to pasta is 3:2.
1 ½ lbs. of Borlotti Beans
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium sized onions, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 sprigs of rosemary, stems removed and discarded, chopped.
6 sprigs of sage, stems removed and discarded, chopped
1 prosciutto end, about 1 lb.
1 cup of dry white wine
1 lb. of Ditalini
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
16 sage leaves, chopped
1. Soak the beans overnight for 12 hours, then drain and rinse them and set them aside. As an alternative, cover the beans in an 8 quart pot with 4 quarts of cold water and bring to a boil. Boil the beans for 2 minutes and remove from the heat, let stand in the pot, covered, for one hour, then drain, rinse and set aside. Rinse out the pot and use it to prepare the soup.
2. Heat olive oil on medium heat in an 8 quart pot.
3. Add garlic and stir for two minutes until translucent.
4. Add carrots, onions and celery, stir for an additional two minutes.
5. Add beans and mix well.
6. Add 4 quarts of water.
7. Add chopped herbs and mix well.
8. Add prosciutto, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for 1 hour. Stir at 15 minute intervals.
9. After 1 hour, cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer an additional 2 hours. Stir every 30 minutes.
10. Remove beans, vegetables and meat and set aside.
11. Add the wine to the broth. If it is too thick add some water and bring to a boil.
12. Add the Ditalini and cook for only 6 minutes, as it will continue to cook.
13. While the pasta is cooking, chop the meat discarding any bone and gristle.
14. There should be about 8 cups of beans and vegetables. Mash, or puree in food processor, about 1/4 (2 cups) of the beans and vegetables.
15. Return mashed beans, whole beans and chopped prosciutto to the pot.
16. Add pepper and salt, as well as 2 more cups of water and the chopped sage. Mix everything well and continue on low heat to blend flavors until ready to serve or save.
17. Serve in soup bowls with extra virgin olive oil, freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and Dorothea’s Homemade Hot Pepper Sauce.
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