Chef Frank Curtiss of Frankie’s Pizza & Pasta, Redmond, WA.
Chef says "This soup is something I came up with while playing around in the kitchen at Frankie’s one day. It was a cold day out, I wanted something hearty and delicious, and this started coming together in my mind. It has many of the same ingredients as our Bolognese sauce, though I used Italian sausage instead of ground beef. And of course white beans are never added to Bolognese sauce. Nonetheless, this soup turned out even better than I had hoped and is now one of my all-time favorites!"
1 pound dried Great Northern white beans
2 ounce olive oil
8 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced
1 1/2 pounds spicy Italian sausage
2 cups chicken stock
24 ounces marinara sauce
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, finely chopped
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
2 cups half-and-half
salt and pepper
Place beans in large soup pot with 6 cups of water and soak 8 to 10 hours. Pour beans into a colander to drain. Rinse and dry soup pot.
In a separate skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook pancetta and Italian sausage. While meat is browning, place beans, chicken stock, marinara, dried basil and oregano in soup pot and bring to a low boil.
When meat is browned, transfer to soup pot with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the skillet. Add celery, carrots and onions to skillet and cook until onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute.
Add white wine to skillet. Stir and simmer until wine has reduced by about a third (this step is known as deglazing). Add to soup pot and continue simmering until beans are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in half-and-half and serve.
Chef’s note: This soup is so good I hesitate to suggest any variations. I will mention though that you could use canned beans instead of dried. If you do so, place in a colander and rinse before adding. This recipe may make a larger quantity than you desire, but the leftovers are even better than the first day. It will freeze well if you’d prefer not to eat it all within a few days.