For authentic pasta fagioli soup, gather 4 ounces pancetta, 3 garlic cloves, fresh rosemary, olive oil and 4 cans of tomatoes. Also obtain a large can of cannellini beans, 1 pound soup-sized pasta and grated cheese. Build flavors in stages, beginning with the pancetta. Finish by adding beans and pasta.
Cut the pancetta into small pieces called lardons, and sauté in olive oil until they start to brown. Next, add rosemary and garlic cloves, along with a pepperoncino if heat is desired. When the herbs and garlic become aromatic, add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hand as they're introduced to the pot. Add several tablespoons of juice to add color. Simmer until the tomatoes and oil separate.
Add beans and simmer one minute before adding approximately 5 cups water or prepared broth and the pasta. As the soup simmers, mash some of the beans with the bottom of a spoon, so as to create a natural thickening agent. Add salt and pepper to taste and continue simmering. Once the pasta is fully cooked, the soup is ready to serve. Ladle into awaiting bowls and garnish with a grated Italian cheese, such as pecorino or Romano. While pasta fagioli is a truly authentic dish, there are also a wide number of variations possible. For example, ground sausage could be substituted for pancetta, and the cannellini beans replaced with chickpeas, cranberry or pinto beans.