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Pasta E Fagioli

by . Featured in NIGELLA BITES
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Introduction

This is a real rib-sticker of a soup.

This is a real rib-sticker of a soup.

Pasta E Fagioli
Photo by Francesca Yorke

Ingredients

Serves: 8

Metric Cups
  • 500 grams dried borlotti beans
  • 6 cloves garlic (5 whole, and 1 microplaned or grated)
  • 2 leafy sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 onion (peeled and quartered)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato concentrate
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 x 6 centimetres sprig fresh rosemary (needles finely chopped)
  • 200 grams ditalini (or other small pasta tubes)
  • 1 splash of extra virgin olive oil (to serve)
  • 2¼ cups dried borlotti beans
  • 6 cloves garlic (5 whole, and 1 microplaned or grated)
  • 2 leafy sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 onion (peeled and quartered)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2½ inches sprig fresh rosemary (needles finely chopped)
  • 1⅓ cups ditalini (or other small pasta tubes)
  • 1 splash of extra virgin olive oil (to serve)

Method

  1. Put the borlotti beans in a large bowl, cover with cold water and let the beans soak overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  2. Drain the beans and tip them into a large saucepan. Using the flat side of a large knife, press down on the whole garlic cloves so that their papery skins tear and begin to come away. Peel them and chuck the bruised cloves on top of the beans. Now take a popsock and in it pop, appropriately enough, the sprigs of rosemary and cut-up onion. This will stop the needles (which turn bitter on boiling) from infiltrating the soup (very irritating between the teeth, too) but allow their resiny fragrance to seep through. I also find it better not to have slimy onion skins all over the place later. Cover everything generously with cold water, clamp on a lid and bring to the boil. Once it's started boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for an hour. Check the beans to see how cooked they are and, only when they're tender, add salt to taste.
  3. Chuck out the corpsed popsock and its contents. Remove a mugful of beans - or more if you want a very thick soup - and tip into a blender (my preference) or processor, along with a tablespoonful of tomato concentrate and 250ml / 1 cup of the beancooking liquid and liquidise.
  4. Now, add the 3 tablespoons of oil to a small saucepan and grate (I always use my fine Microplane for this) or squeeze in the sixth clove of garlic. Cook over a low to medium heat until soft but not coloured and then stir in the finely chopped rosemary. Cook for another scant minute, add the liquidised soup and cook for a minute or so, then tip into the large pan of beans. Bring back to the boil and add the ditalini, cooking them according to packet instructions. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve.
  1. Put the borlotti beans in a large bowl, cover with cold water and let the beans soak overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  2. Drain the beans and tip them into a large saucepan. Using the flat side of a large knife, press down on the whole garlic cloves so that their papery skins tear and begin to come away. Peel them and chuck the bruised cloves on top of the beans. Now take a popsock and in it pop, appropriately enough, the sprigs of rosemary and cut-up onion. This will stop the needles (which turn bitter on boiling) from infiltrating the soup (very irritating between the teeth, too) but allow their resiny fragrance to seep through. I also find it better not to have slimy onion skins all over the place later. Cover everything generously with cold water, clamp on a lid and bring to the boil. Once it's started boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for an hour. Check the beans to see how cooked they are and, only when they're tender, add salt to taste.
  3. Chuck out the corpsed popsock and its contents. Remove a mugful of beans - or more if you want a very thick soup - and tip into a blender (my preference) or processor, along with a tablespoonful of tomato paste and 250ml / 1 cup of the beancooking liquid and liquidise.
  4. Now, add the 3 tablespoons of oil to a small saucepan and grate (I always use my fine Microplane for this) or squeeze in the sixth clove of garlic. Cook over a low to medium heat until soft but not coloured and then stir in the finely chopped rosemary. Cook for another scant minute, add the liquidised soup and cook for a minute or so, then tip into the large pan of beans. Bring back to the boil and add the ditalini, cooking them according to packet instructions. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve.

Tell us what you think

What 5 Others have said

  • Love this recipe. It is the closest I have found to the dish my late Calabrese mum use to cook often, minus the rosemary and with any pasta that was in the cupboard. I did try it with the rosemary and it was still great. I wonder if bouquet garni can be used instead. Sometimes my mum added silverbeet or spinach if there were any in the veggie garden. I still have a have a jar of my mum's borlotti beans, which she grew, dried out on a sheet until the skin was hard and crunchy, that it would come away just by rubbing between her hands. Then she would put them in a big round sifter. It was a marvel to watch her toss the beans high into the air and recapture the whole lot minus the skins, which just floated away in the breeze. I sadly use the store bought beans, as I can't bear to use the beans given to me by my late mum. I have them on the kitchen bench with her other beans. They are a reminder of her wonderful pasta dishes. Every night we would have some sought of pasta dish - pasta e fave, pasta e piselli, pasta e verdure, pasta e lenticchi, pasta e ceci. All wonderful and delicious.

    Posted by vituzza on 19th July 2016
  • my mother came from Italy from a small town called Mirano not far from Venice,  I remember me and my cousins at my nans house in Mirano removing the beans from the pods so my aunt and mother could make the soup but they did not put any pasta into the soup as my dad was not too fond of pasta, but the soup was so good.

    Posted by ant.g on 7th September 2015
  • Just like nonna made... Delicious

    Posted by Aussie cathie on 8th October 2014
  • My mother in law who came from Treviso near Venice made a variation of this back in the day, we and subsequently my kids called it Chocolate Soup. Same recipe but all the beans blitzed to a soupy consistency and small pasta added to the soup for serving. It also works well as a pasta sauce for spaghetti with a cup or so of the whole beans added for texture!

    Posted by Sheree8 on 23rd January 2014
  • Hi, that is a delicious recipe, but I have an easier way to make it. I always noticed that english recipies tells us to soak hard grains overnight, but it happens that there is a magic invention called pressure cooker which makes our life so much better. My way is to simply cook the beans for approx 30 min under pressure, then put all other ingredients, including the pasta and for 5min more under pressure and finito. Your pasta e fagioli will be perfectly cooked, with all ingredients well mixed/incorporated and with perfect texture. Even like this definetely use the popsock and if you want a thincker soup, mash the beans as suggest at the recipe.

    Posted by carolerva on 3rd March 2012
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