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Can I Use A Different Type Of Bean For Pasta E Fagioli?

Asked by HelenDiana. Answered on 16th February 2022

Full question

I am unable to source borlotti beans where I live. Is there a good substitute for the Pasta e Fagioli? Really would like to try this recipe.

Pasta E Fagioli
Photo by Francesca Yorke
Pasta E Fagioli
By Nigella
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Our answer

Nigella's Pasta E Fagioli (from NIGELLA BITES is a hearty Italian soup made with pasta and beans. Borlotti beans are a popular bean in the Italian kitchen. They are sometimes called cranberry beans, so you may find them sold under this name instead.

Cooked borlotti beans have a creamy interior without becoming too mushy. They are ideal for the soup as some can be blended to act as a thickener, while the remainder of the beans provide some texture. Cannellini beans would probably be the next closest bean as when cooked they have similar texture to borlotti beans and cannellini beans are also popular in Italy. However, the cooking time of beans depends on the type of bean and also their age, so the cannellini beans may take longer to cook. Check after an hour to see if the beans are tender, but plan for a slightly longer cooking time, just in case. The soup will have a much paler colour because cannellini beans are white rather than speckled. Red kidney beans have a firmer texture when cooked, so we would prefer not to use these.

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