I've read many rave reviews about this soup before I actually tried it myself. For some reason, the combination of beans and pasta never appealed to me and I imagined this soup would be a bit bland and boring. Until I, having promised to make a new dish every week of this year, finally decided to give pasta e fagioli a try. Oh, dear. I can't even begin to tell you what I have been missing. Though made from only a handful of ingredients, it is surprisingly flavourful, the tastes of the beans and the cooked garlic emulsified, extremely satisfying and utterly comforting - a true winner which has immediately established itself as a staple in my kitchen. What was I thinking all these years, not making this soup? Pasta and bean soup is a classic italian dish and there must be many variations. I made mine according to hearty soups, delicious meals in a bowl, published at Ryland Peters & Small.
Pasta and bean soup (serves 6)
- 185 dried cannellini or haricot beans
- a pinch of bicarbonate of soda
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1.75 litres chicken stock
- 100g short pasta shapes (I used ditaloni from Barilla)
- 4 tomatoes skinned, deseeded and chopped
- 4 tablespoons freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
If you, like me, are hungry and impatient when making this, cook the beans in a pressure cooker and then simmer them for about fifteen minutes with the olive oil and garlic in order for the flavours to combine. I also added a sprig of rosemary which I removed before blending the beans. Watch out when cooking the pasta, the bean purée has a nasty tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan. The only regret I have about this soup: it's not so great when reheated because the pasta will be overcooked. But then it tastes so good you might not even have leftovers.