2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 thick slices pancetta, about a quarter-inch thick each, diced
4 sprigs thyme, with several leaves on them
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 small carrots, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
5 large cloves garlic, chopped or grated
Salt and ground black pepper
2 cans cannellini beans or small white beans (15 ounces each can), drained
2 cups chicken stock
1 quart water
1/3 pound ditalini (small tube pasta)
Heat a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO and pancetta. Brown the pancetta bits lightly and add the thyme sprigs, chopped vegetables and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add the beans, stock and water to the pot and raise the heat to high. Bring the soup to a rapid boil and add the pasta. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the soup, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked to al dente.
The thyme leaves will separate from stems as the soup cooks; remove the stems and place the pot on the table on a trivet so that the hot pot does not burn your table. Let the soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes, then ladle it into bowls.