Recipe for Pasta e Fagioli
(Pasta and Bean Soup)
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Larry Theobald of CycleItalia sent me this recipe for an Italian classic, Pasta Fagioli or pasta and bean soup. Neapolitans call it Pasta Fazool as in Dean Martin's song That's Amore: "When the stars make you drool, just-a like pasta fazool, that's amore".
This is Larry's all-time favorite soup, perfect for lunch on a cold day. It can be made to feed vegans if you use vegetable broth and leave out the meat.
2 Cups dried borlotti beans (pintos will do) soaked in water overnight
4 Cups broth (homemade is best) made from meat, chicken or vegetables
1 potato peeled and quartered
1 carrot peeled and quartered
1 stalk celery, quartered
1-2 oz prosciutto rind, salt pork, or bacon (optional)
1 15-oz can chopped Italian tomatoes
1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz short pasta (gnocchi sardi or something similar that will hold up in soup)
Salt and red (cayenne) pepper to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese for grating
Rinse beans, combine with broth and enough water to cover in large pot. Add potato, carrot, celery and meat (optional). Boil, then simmer until beans are tender, usually 1 hour. Meanwhile heat olive oil in separate pan, saute onion, garlic and parsley until soft but not brown, than add tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, simmer about 15 minutes. Remove potato, carrot and celery and a cup or two of the beans to a food processor (or just mash 'em in a flat dish with a potato masher) and process until smooth. Return this mixture to large pot, add pasta and cook over low heat for 30 minutes or until pasta is tender. Adjust seasonings and serve with grated cheese and/or a drizzle of olive oil. As with most soups the flavors will improve a lot overnight if refrigerated.
Larry Theobald and his wife Heather operate CycleItalia cycling tours.