Pasta and bean soup
Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta Fagioli) is a true classical Italian peasant dish, again overcomplicated all too often by highfallutin' chefs. But made properly, with simple ingredients, and maybe let to infuse in the pot for 24 hours, you have one of the most delicious and hearty soups imaginable.
- 1 large slug of premium olive oil
- 1 glass of dry white wine
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped (use less garlic at your peril!!)
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 4 very red tomatoes, chopped finely or one tin (235 g) chopped tomatoes
- 3 large squeezes of Italian tomato purée
- 2 235g tins of borlotti beans
- 1 handful of fresh, chopped spinach (optional)
- 1 sprig of rosemary about 3 inches long
- A large handful of chopped parsley
- 1 ½ litres water
- 2 chicken stock cubes
- 1 pinch of salt
- large pinch of freshly ground pepper
- large pinch of cayenne pepper
- 5 handfuls of pasta shells or penne
- 100 ml of single fresh cream (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in the pan, and add the chopped garlic and onions and fry gently for about 3 minutes until translucent but not coloured. Add the cayenne pepper and mix well in the pan.
- Add the glass of white wine and allow to evaporate slightly
- Add the water, the stock cubes, the tomato paste, pepper, salt, Pasta and the 2 tins of beans and allow to simmer gently for as long as the pasta needs to cook (see packet) stirring occasionally.
- Once the pasta is al dente, stop the cooking process and add the chopped parsley and the cream and stir in well.
- Now add the rosemary sprig and allow the whole thing to infuse for about 2 hours.
Notes, tips and variations
- Add a small piece of Parmesan rind to the pot once you have added the water. Take it out once you are ready to serve the soup. Adds a... well... a parmesany taste to the soup!!
- The soup should be quite thick, but if it is not thick enough, take some of the soup out of the pot (preferably excluding any pasta) and blend it. Return the blended mixture to the soup to thicken.
- This soup can be adjusted by the addition of extra beans, extra pasta, to suit your individual taste. As a general rule the pasta should form about 40 percent of the soup !