- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Spices to taste (Thyme, oregano, parsley flakes, celery salt, garlic powder or flakes, salt and pepper, or a tablespoon or so of mixed Italian spice)
- 1 carton ready-made broth (we used chicken broth, but for a vegetarian version of this soup you can substitute vegetable broth)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large (796 mL) can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup small pasta shells
- 1 small (398 mL) can Italian butter beans or other large, flat beans (Romano, broad beans or similar)
Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pot. Sauté the chopped onion in the oil for a few minutes.
Toss the spices with the onion and oil, then pour in about a third of the carton of broth and toss in the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Gradually add the rest of the broth, and then add the tomatoes.
Cook the soup base for about 20-30 minutes at a high simmer, stirring once in a while and making sure that the tomatoes aren't sticking to the bottom of the pot.
When the tomatoes change from red to orange-red, it's time to finish the soup. Add the pasta shells and let them cook until almost done (about 6-7 minutes). Add the beans, including the liquid from the can. Bring back to a boil and cook until the beans are heated through and the pasta is soft. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
Serve immediately, but be aware that the shells will continue to expand and you may end up with a pasta dish instead of a soup. If for some reason you need it to be soup, just add more broth to the mixture to thin it out again.