Pasta e fagioli
Some say, “Pasta fazool,” others, “Pasta e fasoi,” and still others, “Pasta e fagioli.” It all depends whether you are in Naples, Venice, Florence or even Brooklyn.
Whatever dialect you are familiar with, this homey soup is a quintessential Italian/Mediterranean comfort food guaranteed to cheer you up in winter. Try out Chef Rosario Del Nero’s recipe below!
Pasta e Fagioli
- 8 oz dry Borlotti beans
- 2 bay laurel leaves (fresh or dried)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup red onions, diced
- 3/4 cup carrots, diced
- 3/4 cup celery, diced
- 2 tbsp fresh garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- A generous pinch of cracked black pepper
- A pinch of crushed hot red chili peppers
- 14 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes, peeled or crushed
- salt to taste
- 2 cups bean broth from cooked beans
- 5 oz ditalini or tubettini pasta
- A generous sprinkle of Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano
Place beans in a container, completely submerge them in clean cold water, cover and refrigerate, letting them soak overnight.
Next day, rinse the beans, place them in a pot, and cover with 6 cups of cold water. Add two bay leaves and cook, covered, on medium heat for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Once the beans are cooked, dice vegetables and start your soffritto (This is the flavor foundation for the soup, explained in steps 4 and 5)
Heat the oil in a large heavy pot and add vegetables (carrots, celery, onions, garlic)
In the same pot, add chopped herbs, black pepper and chili pepper.
Cook soffritto for at least ten minutes, until golden and fragrant.
With a slotted spoon, remove about half of the cooked beans from their pot and add to the soffritto, along with 2 cups of the cooking broth. Save the remainder of the beans and broth for use in step 11.
Add San Marzano tomatoes, stir and cook for 10minutes on low heat, keeping a steady simmer. Stir often with a wooden spoon, breaking up tomatoes as you mix.
Season with salt to taste.
Add raw pasta directly to the soup and cook according to package directions (usually about 10 minutes), stirring often.
While pasta is cooking in the soup pot, discard bay leaves from the bean pot and puree the remaining beans in their broth with an immersion blender until smooth and creamy.
Once pasta is cooked, add the bean puree to the soup, stir thoroughly and serve at once.
Transfer to individual soup bowls, garnish with chopped celery leaves, sprinkle a few drops of Evoo and grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano if desired.
Unlike some Italian culinary classics like Tagliatelle alla Bolognese or Trenette al Pesto, there is NO single, original recipe for Pasta e fagioli. Every region of Italy has a different version, and within each region, every family has a different way of preparing this dish. So, this is MY personal interpretation of Pasta e fagioli, inspired by the Tuscan love for beans and the Umbrian ancient grain, farro (emmer), used to make the nutty-flavored nutritious pasta that stars in this recipe.
Most recipes for Pasta e fagioli use pork (lard, prosciutto, or pancetta) in the preparation, but I kept it simple, intensely flavored, yet vegetarian. Vegans, just omit the cheese at the end.
A good PASTA e FAGIOLI can be enjoyed sitting by the fire and sipping some DEI Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a Tuscan red lovingly made with Sangiovese and a small percentage of Canaiolo grapes. Its fragrance of aromatic herb and wild berry aromas is a perfect match for the hearty Pasta e Fagioli.
I invite you all to add your personal touch to make it your own. I won’t be offended if you tinker!