I’ve streamlined this recipe for you by cooking everything together in one big pot. Ditalini pasta is traditional in this dish, but my favorite brand (Dreamfield’s) isn’t available in that shape, so I used elbows. Nutritional yeast stands in for the customary parmesan rind in this stew-like version of the Italian soup. I suppose you could add more broth to make it more soupy, but we enjoyed the thick, filling heartiness. I prepared it through step three, and sneaked off to a neighbor’s house for a glass of wine, then completed it when I got home.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

½ sweet white onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

28-ounce can diced tomatoes, including juice

2 cups vegetable broth

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried basil

½ tsp. dried thyme

¼ to ½ tsp. red pepper flakes

¼ cup nutritional yeast

6 ounces small pasta

¼ cup tomato paste

Two 14-ounce cans beans, such as great northern or kidneys, including liquid

A big handful of parsley, chopped

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and add the carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and a little salt.

2. Cook and stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables have given off their juices and are beginning to soften.

3. Add the tomatoes, broth, oregano, basil, thyme, pepper flakes, and nutritional yeast. Also, add the liquid from the two cans of beans. Cook and stir for another 10 minutes or so, until the vegetables are very tender.

4. Add the pasta. Cook the pasta for the time listed on the package, stirring often to prevent it from sticking.

5. Stir in the two cans of beans and the tomato paste and heat until steaming hot.

6. Taste for salt. Stir in the parsley and serve.

Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at wendyandrayzer@yahoo.com.