This soup, adapted from a recipe in Italian Cooking Magazine, can easily be made into a delicious vegetarian dish. Simply substitute water or vegetable stock for the beef or chicken stock and replace the pancetta with diced carrots and celery. You can enjoy Pasta e Fagioli as a first course or as a meal with hearty, country-style whole-grain bread.
Note: Make sure you use high-quality pasta that will stay al dente in the hot soup. You’ll want to serve your pasta e fagioli immediately since the pasta continues to absorb liquid even after you remove it from the heat. If you anticipate having leftovers, don’t cook the pasta in the whole pot of soup. Instead, heat the amount of soup you plan to serve in a separate pot, and add the pasta to this portion. This way, the pasta won’t get soggy in the leftovers. Using whole wheat pasta will increase the fiber and protein content, which will stabilize blood sugar levels and make a more nutritious meal.