5 cups cannellini beans (white kidney beans), canned, rinsed and drained
6 qts. water
3 large Idaho potatoes (about 1 3/4 lbs., peeled)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 lb. bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2" strips
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 c. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups diced tomatoes with liquid, crushed
Salt and pepper
1 lb. ditalini pasta (or elbow pasta)
Grated fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese
1. Pour 6 qts. water into a tall pot (at least 10 qt.) Add drained beans, whole potatoes, rosemary, and bay leaves. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, then adjust the heat to a gentle boil. Let boil while preparing the sautéed vegetables, about 25 minutes.
2. Place the bacon and garlic in a food processor to make a paste. Stop once or twice to scrape down the sides of the processor. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Scrape in the bacon-garlic paste and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the carrots and cook until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Pour two ladleful's of the bean-cooking water into the skillet and bring to a boil, then pour the contents of the skillet into the soup pot. Season lightly with salt and pepper and bring to a slow boil. Cook until the carrots are soft.
5. Ladle one-third of the beans, along with enough cooking liquid to cover them, into a baking dish or other shallow container where they will cool quickly. Cool until no longer steaming, stirring will help cool the beans. Using a food processor, blend the beans and liquid until creamy. Return the pureed beans to the pot.
6. Remove potatoes to a plate and coarsely mash them with a fork and return them to the pot. Cook 10 minutes to give the flavors a chance to blend. let the soup rest off the heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
7. While soup is resting, cook the ditalini in salted water until al dente; they will cook more once put in the soup. Drain well and stir into the soup. Let rest for 5 - 10 minutes, then serve with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of cheese, and a handful of chopped cilantro.