Introduction: Italian Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta E Fagioli)
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 nice thing about the soup is that is can be made the long way or the short way. You can make it completely from scratch by soaking the dried beans, and making your own stock, or by 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.
Here I will give you the instructions for making the soup from scratch.
Step 1: Ingredients
200 g/ 7 oz Dried beans
1 stick Celery
1 medium Potato
200 g Tomato puree
1 vegetable bouillon cube if not using stock
2 L / 8 cups Water or vegetable stock
1 tsp Salt
1 Bay leaf
1 sprig Rosemary
Pepper to taste
300 g/10.5 oz Short Pasta
Step 2: The Day Before
Wash the beans then put them in a large bowl. Cover with water and leave to soak overnight.
Step 3: The Next Day
Peel and dice the carrot, potato and onion. Chop the celery.
Drain the beans and rinse them.
Step 4: Throw Almost Everything in the Pot
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 liquid gets too low, add a little more.
Step 5: Add Salt
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.
Step 6: Cook the Pasta
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.
Step 7: Serving Suggestions and Notes
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.
- This soup (before adding the pasta) tastes even better a day or two after it is made.
- 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.
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