As we edge closer to winter, I begin to crave comforting meals that feel like a warm hug. This soup happens to be the comfiest of them all.
Once you make it, I am sure it will become a cold weather favourite of yours, too.
Pasta e fagioli, which simply translates to pasta and beans, may not be the prettiest dish, but what it lacks in looks, it certainly makes up for in taste.
There are many variations of this thick hearty soup — some soupier than others or pasta cooked separately, and variations of pasta shapes, just as a starting point.
A nice addition is small cubes of lardons or pancetta which can be added once the shallots, celery and carrot have been gently fried off.
Whatever you decide, one of the crucial stages of this soup is the frying off — really take your time cooking out the veggies as it brings so much flavour and sweetness.
Some leave the soup completely chunky, but here I suggest blending half of the beany broth to give you a soup that is a little creamy.
I really do prefer using fresh or dried borlotti beans for this soup since they are the hero, but tinned ones are a more than fine substitute and is what I suggest here. It is what I’ll often use when I’m short on time.
- A cheat’s way to prep: If you’re not confident with chopping things very finely, blitz the shallots, celery and carrot in a food processor instead.
- Food waste win: Adding a parmesan rind gives the soup a great depth of flavour and is a great way to use up something that would usually be thrown away.
- Using fresh beans: If you wanted to use fresh borlotti beans, you will need around 380g of podded beans. To cook, place them in a pot and cover with enough water so that it comes about 5cm above the beans. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. The bean water can be used in place of the stock.
- Using dried beans: For dried beans, you’ll begin with around 150g. They will need to be soaked overnight in plenty of cold water, drained then placed in a pot and covered with more water — aim for 10cm above the beans. Bring to the boil then simmer for 30-40 minutes until tender. Like the fresh beans, the water too can be used in lieu of the stock. I like to season the water with a little salt (many think this toughens the beans but I disagree), some peppercorns, half an onion and a bay leaf.