Brown the meats: Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Add the sausage and continue cooking until browned as well, about 4-5 minutes.
Sauté the vegetables: Add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic and cook until starting to soften, about 4-5 minutes.
Season and deglaze: Stir the tomato paste, Italian seasoning and garlic powder into the pot until evenly distributed. Pour the red wine into the pot and cook, scratching the browned bits off the bottom of the pot, for 1 minute.
Cook the soup: Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper to the pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
Add pasta and beans: Stir uncooked Ditalini through soup, cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir through drained beans and continue simmering for 4-5 minutes, until pasta is cooked and beans are heated, stirring through more broth if needed. Serve immediately with parmesan and parsley, if desired. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.
Sausage: Mild or spicy both work, choose what you like taste-wise. If you use whole sausages, just remove them from their casings and use just the sausage meat. You’ll need to break it up well during browning, but it works just as well as ground sausage.
Bacon: Pancetta is really perfect here, but regular thick-cut bacon is fine. You can skipif you’re not a fan.
Beans: You can also go for great nothern, light red kidney, white kidney…
Pasta: Any short, small pasta shape will work. I used to cook the pasta separately in a previous version of this soup, but found it wasn't necessary to dirty another pot and now cook the pasta right in the soup. There really is no need to cook the pasta separately, unless you are planning to freeze the soup; or really seriously dislike soft pasta.
Wine: The wine does add depth of flavor, but feel free to skip it if you don’t want to use alcohol. As far as which wine to choose, use a dry red you would also enjoy drinking. Sangiovese or Chianti would be perfect, but you can cheat and use a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot or a Pinot Noir.
Vegetables: Chop vegetables as evenly as possible, roughly between the size of the pasta and the beans, in order to make the soup more pleasant to eat.
Browning: Stick to medium-high or just below medium-high. Don’t stop once the sausage looks cooked but is still pale, continue browning until it has a nice caramelized color to it. If you disregard my note about using medium-high heat and burn it, it can ruin the flavor of the entire soup and you’ll definitely need to remove the sausage, wash the pot, remove the worst burnt parts of the sausage and only then continue with the recipe in order to salvage it.
Freezer: The soup freezes well, but here I do strongly recommend to leave out the pasta (again, use 4 cups of broth instead of 5 cups to make the soup). See notes in post for exact freezer tips and instructions.
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