Pasta e fagioli – bean and pasta soup

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Pasta e fagioli is consumed all over the Italian peninsula, with many regional variations. It belongs to the world of cucina povera, the food of the humble. The hearty and nutritious dish combines pasta and bean to create a substantial meal that is rich in nutrients and proteins.

In Naples, pasta e fagioli takes the form of a thick, stew-y, starchy soup made with white beans (such as cannellini, or tondini) and a mix of short or broken up pasta (pasta mista). The dish is delicious just off the stove, but some argue that it’s even better reheated the following day.

Ingredients

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Pasta e fagioli – bean and pasta soup

  • 500g of dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed well
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 60ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g of pancetta, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and peeled
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 500g of mixed durum wheat pasta, such as garganelli and broken-up reginette
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • pecorino
1
Place the beans and bay leaves in a large pot and cover with plenty of cold water, approximately 3l. Bring everything to the boil and cook the beans until just al dente, about 30–40 minutes. Discard the bay leaves, drain the beans but reserve about 2l of the bean cooking water
  • 500g of dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed well
  • 3 bay leaves
2
In the same pot, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the pancetta and fry until the fat has rendered. Add the garlic, chilli and celery, cooking until the celery is tender. Add the cherry tomatoes and the beans, stirring to coat everything in the fat
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 60ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g of pancetta, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and peeled
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
3
Add the reserved cooking water, topping up with some fresh water if necessary, and bring everything to a rolling boil. Add the pasta
4
Cook until the pasta is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid. Season to taste. When ready, remove from the heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes
5
Serve with pecorino grated over the top
  • pecorino
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