I made this lovely pasta e fagioli (pasta + bean soup) the past weekend. This is the best-known peasant dish in Italy and Antonio Carluccio’s recipe. He says that every Italian region, sometimes every town, has a pasta e fagioli, which is a charming and warming cucina povera (“poor kitchen”) dish. It can be very thick or more soupy according to the area of its origin.
Antonio sees this soup as the benchmark of every restaurant! If a chef cannot make it properly, then he is not a good, nor conscientious chef.
Its easy and delicious. Enjoy!
- Serves 6
- 300g fresh borlotti beans, or 200g dried beans soaked in cold water overnight and drained (I used 400g tinned beans)
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- a few pieces of cured Italian ham (I used a packet of good bacon)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 basil leaves
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1 liter chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 red chilli, chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- Salt and pepper
- 150g tubetti pasta (I used macaroni)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to serve
- Put the beans into a heatproof earthenware pot or large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook gently, allowing one hour if using fresh beans, 1½-2 hours if using dried. Don't salt the water or the skins will remain tough. When soft, drain and puree half of the beans in a blender or food processor, then mix together with the whole beans.
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and bacon and fry until softened. Add the basil, rosemary, stock, chilli if using, tomato puree, beans and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, then add the pasta and cook for 7-8 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.
- Leave to stand for 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to mingle. Reheat if you like, but in Italy soups are more often served warm rather than hot, even cold in summer. Top each portion with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.