When I think comfort, I think of all those Italian ladies making ends meet by saving money. One way was to cook less expensive dishes that would stretch the dollar.
I always keep a few cans of beans in my pantry. I enjoy making this dish with white canellini beans, but you can use any other like butter beans, or navy beans. The recipe is pretty easy:
2 cans of beans, undrained
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pancetta or prosciutto or bacon
1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 TBS tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh herbs, e.g., parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano
2 cups water or broth or combination of both
1/2 lb Ditalini or tiny baby shells pasta
In large heavy Dutch oven, pour 2 TBS olive oil. Cook the pancetta before you add your onion, garlic, celery and carrots.
After they soften, make room in center of pot and add the tomato paste. Cook by stirring with wooden spoon, incorporating into the softened vegetables.
At this point, add the undrained beans. Stir into the mixture to combine.
Add 2 cups broth or cold water. Stir well. Add the fresh herbs of your choice.
Add the salt and pepper, some hot pepper flakes (optional).
Cook the beans for 30 minutes on simmer.
Cook pasta according to box directions and drain.
When you serve, place some drained pasta in bowl first, then cover with cooked bean soup.
You have got to have some bread, a glass of red wine and toast to good health.