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Minestrone For All Seasons

(adapted from Winter Minestrone, Gourmet Magazine Jan 2009)
Serves 4-6
Time required: 2 1/2 hours

2 oz chopped pancetta
1 1/2 red onions, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 15 oz can of Italian style diced tomatoes (w/ basil, garlic, oregano)
6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
1 lb of escarole, washed thoroughly and roughly chopped
1 15 oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 piece parmesan rind
8 oz (1/2 box) of ditalini pasta (or similar sized pasta)
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine pancetta, red onions, celery, and carrots in extra virgin olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Season with salt and black pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in garlic. Continue to cook over medium heat for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to caramelize and stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

In the meantime, cook ditalini pasta according to instructions on the box. Drain and toss with some olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking together. Set aside.

Push softened vegetables to the side of the saucepan and add tomato paste. Cook for 3-4 minutes, letting tomato paste slightly caramelize (be careful not to let it burn). Stir tomato paste into vegetables and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add canned tomatoes and chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the saucepan. Bring to a boil, add in 1/2 of escarole and parmegianno reggiano rind and reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.

Add remaining escarole and cannellini beans, cook for another 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding additional salt and pepper as needed. Remove parmesan rind. Stir in cooked ditalini right before serving.
Serve with a crusty piece of bread. Enjoy!