My mom has been making pasta e fagioli ("pasta and beans") since way before I was even born. If you ask anyone in my family what they want her to make, it's always that or her roast pork. Both are knee-bucklers for their own reasons, but her pasta e fagioli is like childhood and family in a bowl, for me.
It rained one day on our last trip down the shore. Like clockwork, we thought about what to make, and we decided on pasta e fagioli rather quickly. Before long, my Aunt and Uncle had found their way to our house, and even the downstairs owner received a bowl (which subsequently caused him to love my family all the more, ha!). My mom finally taught my step-by-step how ridiculously easy this dish is, and when we were done I was annoyed with myself for not having learned it sooner! I also made stuffed peppers.
EVOO to coat the bottom of a large stock pot, 1/2 small onion diced, 5 cloves of garlic, kosher salt and red pepper flakes. Cook until the onions are translucent and then add a 12-oz. can of tomato paste. Let the paste fry in the oil and onions for 5 minutes or so. Add 3 cans of white kidney beans (with juice), 5 cans of water, fresh basil and parsley. Bring to just under a boil and add 1 lb. of al dente ditalini. Cover and let sit on low for at least one hour. Serve with locatelli cheese and red pepper flakes.