The Ultimate Italian Comfort Food
When it’s cold and damp outside, I love to have a hearty bowl of Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and dried bean soup). There are many ways to make it in Italy. It’s one of those recipes that everyone makes slightly differently and are sure that their way is the right way to do it! The thing that all the recipes have in common is the pasta, though in some cases fresh pasta is used instead of dried, and the beans. Those two indispensable ingredients can be agreed upon by everyone. The rest is up for spirited debate as to whether it should be included or not. So below, I’ve added the recipe of how I make this delicious pasta e fagioli dish. I guarantee that it tastes good!
The easy way to make dried bean soup
The nice thing about the soup is that is can be made completely from scratch by soaking the dried beans, and making your own stock, to opening a can of ready-cooked beans and using a stock cube. Of course, the finished result tastes different depending on whether you use the fast or slow way, but both taste good! I love the taste of Borlotti beans (also called Cranberry beans), but I’m always a little disappointed by the fact that the beans don’t keep their lovely spotted colour when you cook them. Instead, they turn a uniform brown. You can also use other dried beans, such as cannellini beans, Pinto beans or Great Northern Beans, or a mixture of all of them.
Travel Photo Of The Week
This photo makes me want to eat pasta e fagioli. I took it during a snowfall in the mountains in the Susa Valley in Italy. It was really cold that day! Yes, I know the writing on the signs is all in French, but I promise that this village is in Italy, even though it also has the French name of Jouvenceaux. Here, it’s only 20 minutes from the French border, so languages get a little mixed. For the very observant amongst you that also spotted some English on the sign, that is because this village and Sauze d’Oulx just above it on the mountain have been ski destinations for English people for many years. The villages are a mix of English pubs and Italian restaurants, often with French names.
By Lisa Watson
Pasta e Fagioli (dried bean and pasta soup)
- 200 g Dried beans 7 oz
- 1 stick Celery
- 1 Carrot
- 1 Onion
- 1 medium Potato
- 200 g Tomato puree 1 1/2 cups
- 1 Chicken beef or vegetable bouillon cube
- 2 L Water or stock 8 cups
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 sprig Rosemary
- Pepper to taste
- 300 g Short Pasta 10.5 oz
- Soak the beans overnight.
The Next Day:
- Peel and dice the carrot, potato and onion. Chop the celery.
- Drain the beans and rinse them.
- Add all the ingredients, except the salt, to a large pot. Make sure the beans are well-covered with water/stock. Adding too much is better than not enough. You can always boil it off later.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the water gets too low, add a little more.
- Ten minutes before the end of the cooking, add the salt.
- At this point, you can partially blend the soup to make a more creamy consistency, or leave it as it is.
- I prefer to cook the pasta separately in boiling water, then add the pasta to the soup afterwards. To do this, fill a second pot with water, bring the water to the boil, then cook the pasta as per the instructions on the packet.
- Add the cooked pasta to the soup and ladle into bowls. You can add a dash of good olive oil to the top of the soup and decorate it with chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese.
- If the soup is too thick, just add more water and stir.
- You can choose any kind of short pasta you like. A type with a hole in it is a good option as it picks up the soup. The soup can be frozen before the pasta is added.
- If you used canned beans, add less water at the beginning and cook the soup for 20 minutes, instead of for an hour.