fresh grated parmesan cheese, more olive oil, and crushed red pepperfor serving, optional
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta or bacon, onions, carrots, celery, and rosemary. Cook for about 5 minutes, until softened and starting to brown, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add HALF of the drained and rinsed cannellini beans, the crushed tomatoes, and the chicken stock. Use an immersion blender to puree everything directly in the pot for a few seconds. It shouldn't be perfectly smooth, but some of the beans and veggies should be mashed to thicken the mixture. See notes if you don't have an immersion blender.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, and add the rest of the beans and the pasta, as well as the 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Simmer, covered, until pasta is cooked (about 10 minutes).
Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste (this dish requires a lot of salt, and how much you add depends on how much is in the stock/broth you use or if you've used water).
Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper, and drizzled with more extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.
Make it vegan/vegetarian: Omit the pancetta/bacon and use vegetable broth or water instead of chicken stock.
A note on the canned beans: Cannellini beans, frustratingly, are sometimes hard to find in standard can sizes. I used two cans of Cento brand, which come in 19 oz. sizes. You can use two 15 oz. cans, or even three 15 oz. cans. The recipe is very flexible.
Money Saving Tip: Cook dry beans and use about 4 cups cooked cannellini beans instead of using canned.
Don't have an immersion blender? You can use a potato masher for a similar, but more rustic texture, and mash the beans and veggies directly in the pot. If you do this, I recommend grating the carrots, as they will be too hard to mash up at this point. Alternatively, you can put all the cooked veggies, along with half of the beans, into a standing blender, then add it back to the pot with the crushed tomatoes and chicken stock.