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Soup with Greens and Pasta

Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 to 8 as a first course

This is a quick, easy, healthy and delicious soup recipe. Any type of frozen or fresh greens can be used, adjusting the cooking time as needed. Pancetta is Italian bacon. If you cannot find it, you can use regular smoked bacon, or omit it entirely and use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version. This is a wonderful soup as a main course, but it is light enough to serve as an appetizer for an elegant meal.

Ingredients

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and fry until most of the fat has rendered. Add the onions and sauté until softened. Add the garlic and sauté one more minute. Add the greens, broth, 1 cup water and chickpeas. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook until the greens and peas are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the pasta and cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes, adding more water if needed. Add the pepper and taste before adding salt. Serve, passing cheese separately.

Notes: Whole wheat pasta works perfectly in this soup. Since I cannot find it in a ditalini shape, I use small shells or elbows. Additionally, I prefer either low-sodium or no-salt-added chickpeas. The choice is yours.