I turns out the nearest Kroger to my work is pretty lame-o. I could not find the orecchiette OR the canned lentils that this recipe called for. The finished product, however, turned out to be a very decent bowl of pasta with just the amount of heat to cut through the terrible rain lingering over fair Morgantown.
The soup is called “pastalini” because you can substitute just about any mini-pasta you want–orecchiette, ditalini (which I used), conchiglie, wagon wheels. As long as the noodle is no bigger than your thumb tip, it’ll work (a new rule of thumb for you).
TUSCAN PASTALINI SOUP
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, smashed (not minced)
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 cans chicken broth
4 cups water
1 package “pastalini” (see above)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
A little bit of shaved Parmesan (optional)
A few slices of hearty, crusty bread (optional)
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once warm, add onion, garlic cloves, and pepper flakes. Saute on medium until onion become soft. Add tomato paste and stir thoroughly to incorporate. Saute for 2 minutes. Add broth and water to pot and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, crumble and brown ground beef. Break up during the cooking of the main pot. Once pot is boiling, add pasta. Cook at medium-high heat, stirring frequently. When ground beef is completely cooked through, add to pot. When pasta is almost done, add beans and heat through. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Serve with shaved parmesan on top with a few piece of crusty bread. Enjoy!
Makes 8 servings.