Pasta e fagioli

pasta-e-fagioli

Pasta e fagioli

Pasta e fagioli, pasta and beans, is another example of an Italian peasant dish that uses basic, inexpensive ingredients to great effect. This is a thick soup/ stew that will warm you up, fill you up and basically feels like a hug in a bowl. Best topped with plenty of Parmesan, of course, though if you hold off the cheese it is suitable for any vegan friends.

SERVES

4

INGREDIENTS

For the beans:

250g dried cannellini beans
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 large sprig of rosemary
Olive oil
Salt & pepper, for seasoning

For the rest:

Olive oil
½ onion, diced finely
½ large carrot, diced finely
2 stalks celery, diced finely
1 sprig rosemary, stalk removed and leaves chopped finely
800ml vegetable or chicken stock
2 tbsp tomato puree
150g pasta (short tubes, such as tubetti or macaroni)
Salt & pepper, for seasoning
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
Parmesan cheese, to serve

METHOD

Start the night before by soaking the beans. Put the beans in a large saucepan and cover generously with cold water. Leave to soak overnight.

In the morning, drain the water, rinse the beans and tip them back into the large saucepan. Smash the garlic cloves but keep the skins intact and add them to the saucepan along with the bay and rosemary. Cover everything with cold water and add a glug of olive oil. Pop the lid on and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Turn down to a simmer and leave to cook for around 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the beans are tender and the skins soft. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid and garlic but discarding of the herbs. Season the beans with salt and pepper and set aside.

Meanwhile start on the soffritto. Heat a good glug of oil in a large saucepan then add the onion, carrot, celery and rosemary. Fry gently on a low heat, adding more oil if necessary, until completely soft. This could take 20-30 minutes. At this point, pour in the stock and keep on a medium-low simmer.

Blend half of the beans with 200-250ml of the cooking liquid and the garlic (skins removed) in a blender to make a smooth puree. Add this to the soffritto/stock mix, along with the tomato purée and stir everything to combine.

Bring to the boil then add the pasta and cook according to pack instructions, around 10 minutes, until al dente. Add the beans when the pasta is ready and turn off the heat. Season well.

This is best left to stand for an hour or so to really let the flavours develop. Reheat when ready to serve, drizzling each portion with extra virgin olive oil and scattering generously with Parmesan.

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