Bean Soup with Pasta (Pasta e Fagioli)
We generally consider this to be a winter recipe, but rather than rebel against the freezing cold of this spring, we have decided to embrace it (ok, not really, more like give up an unwinnable fight) and enjoy what would be an out-of-season dish if the temperatures were a little higher. Until the temperature is above 10C, we are happy to have comforting, winter-y meals. I would be happy to have this regularly regardless the weather as it is wholesome, comforting and, as a common rule-of-thumb around here, fairly easy to prepare. Baby Green loves it, which obviously particularly recommends the dish to us.
This is a one-pot dish that requires some preparation as the beans need to be soaked for a minimum of 8 hrs before being cooked, but otherwise it requires fairly minimal effort. We serve it as a main meal and enjoy it with pasta, usually with a penne. Bread and rice would also be nice additional fillers/ accompaniments and go well with the thick and creamy texture of the soup.
I usually soak the beans in the morning before heading out to work, that way once I am back home, I can just turn on the heat under the pot and attend to other, more immediately pressing chores (a little Negroni perhaps?). At the bottom of the page is a quick soak method for the beans, which allows them to soak and cook for a shorter period of time. Alternatively, 4 cans of cooked beans could be used along with the liquid in the cans. There is roughly (and this depends on the beans you are using) 100ml of liquid in a can of beans, so you would then need to add another 2.5 litres of water to the pot.
We like to use borlotti beans or pinto beans for this recipe. We generally do not like to cook with oil, if it can be avoided, and instead like to drizzle a high quality cold pressed extra virgin olive oil over the dish just before serving in order to retain the full flavour of the delicious oil.
We try to consume legumes regularly and this is an option that is especially appealing to Baby Green as - in addition to him liking the soup itself - it is served with his favourite food group, pasta. The recipe below is for a straightforward bean soup, but we quite often sneak in other veg such as cabbages and kales. Cavolo nero in particular adds a welcome Tuscan edge to the dish. As the soup is blended, feel free to try adding different vegetables to amplify the nutritional content.
Ingredients: (serves 4 adults)
- 500g dried beans
- 3 litres water
- 3 tbsp bouillon
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 medium onion
- 2 medium carrots
- 1/4 fennel bulb or large stalk of celery
- 1 cup tomato passata
- Rosemary, thyme and sage
- Rinse the beans well and then soak for at least 8 hrs in water.
- Bring the beans to the boil and then simmer for one hour, or until tender.
- Chop the vegetables and add to the cooked beans.
- Add the passata to the cooked beans.
- Strip the leaves of the herbs off any tough stalks, chop and add to the pot along with the salt and bouillon.
- Continue to cook for a further half an hour.
- Blend the soup using an immersion blender or transfer to an upright blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Adjust seasoning and serve with your favourite pasta, rice or good, crusty sourdough bread.
Quick-soak method for beans:
- Rinse beans and place in a pot with the water. Bring beans to the boil and then remove from heat and let sit for 1 hour.
- Turn heat back on and bring the beans to a gentle simmer for 1 hour or until cooked and tender.
- Continue with recipe as above.