I always use dry beans. We used to keep can beans around for use in a pinch but the pressure cooker makes the can beans obsolete cause it cooks dry beans just as quick. You could use them either way in these recipes just have to put the beans in at different times.
Here is a good recipe for a Napeladano style "pasta vazule" soup. Basically a more water version of the above dish.
Its made with small shell pasta, kidney beans. (some regions make it with green peas) a tomate broth and small meat balls the size of peas.
I use lamb and it is most traditional, also used is pork.
Take some bones and brown them with chopped onions and garlic (lots of garlic) add dry oregano, basil, rosemary, bay leaf, nutmeg, paprika, cinnamon, salt black pepper, a little sugar.
Stir around on low heat for a few moments. Now add a splash of red wine and deglaze.
Add water simmer for a couple of hours and make a stock. Strain the stock and return to the heat. Add enough canned crushed tomatoes to make a tomato broth with the stock. It should be more on the thin 'soupy' side.
Now add can beans or beans that have been precooked or soaked.
Simmer over low heat till the beans are tender.
While that is simmering mix your ground meat with pureed garlic and onions, a little bit of bread crumbs, eggs, nut meg, salt and pepper. Wash your hands really wel and then wet them with water or a little veg oil. and start forming them between your palms. For them as small as you can. The sign of a good Neapolitan chef is how patient he is in his ability to make smaller meat balls.
As you form them toss them onto an oiled cookie sheet. broil them for a few mins. only. Scrape them off into the soup after the beans are tender. Dont over cook the meat balls.
Now cook small shells until semi finished and still a little hard. Takee some of the sarchy water and add to the soup as need if it is to thick.
I like keeping the pasta on the side and mix it with the soup prior to serving each portion. This is because if you mix all of the shells in the soup and then store it in the fride a day or two the pasta will get all soggy.
I think I got all of it. Let me know.
I love this soup with peas or beans, pork and/or lamb.