Pasta e Fagioli – a hearty traditional Italian soup that simply means; ‘pasta and beans’.
This peasants dish is composed of inexpensive ingredients, and, in true keeping with the traditional Italian style of cooking, which utilises ingredients you have on hand and transforms them into a delicious meal.
This Pasta e Fagiolo recipe comes from Coach. As, it was something that he used to request from his Nona, when he was boy. His Nona, would happily make it for him the old-fashioned-way. This included picking and then soaking the cannellini beans for some 6 – 8 hours and making the pasta from scratch, something we didn’t do on this occasion. Instead, we opted for the fast and furious way and used store bought beans in a can!
Whilst Coach was making this dish, it was interesting to listen to his stories about how his Nona would spend her days in the kitchen, preparing pastas, breads and much, much more. Again, not something that we do, nearly often enough.
The other thing Coach was telling me about whilst I watched and photographed his time in our kitchen was, how ‘they’, (the family), would all come together and sit around a long table to eat each and every meal, which would seat, at times, in excess of 15 family members. Sheesh! That sounds like Christmas every single meal, every single day for me.
It’s not even something that I can even fathom!
At times, it’s hard enough to get a meal on the table for one, let alone that many mouths, a minimum of three times a day. It’s no wonder Italian Nona’s are amazing cooks!
He went on to describe the ‘noise’ that comes with that many people at one table, as, they would all be talking over each other, breaking bread and eating together, and how he missed the sound of those meal times. It was interesting for me to watch as he spoke, because, at times, you could actually see him re-living those moments, as if it were yesterday.
I hope that you enjoy making and, eating this dish as much as I enjoyed it, and the story that was behind it.
Ps. We tweaked this to suit the ingredients we had in our pantry and fridge at the time, you can use Prosciutto which would make it more authentic.
Pasta e Fagioli
- 1 400 gram can cannellini beans picked & soaked, drained
- 80 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk roughly chopped
- 4-6 pieces bacon rind
- 1 400 gram can diced tomato
- 250 grams shell pasta
- 1 litre starchy pasta water
- 45 grams parmesan cheese grated
Using a strainer and a small bowl, drain the cannellini beans and capture the water. Set both aside for later.
In a large fry-pan over a medium – high heat, add oil and sauté the garlic, celery and bacon and bacon rind for 5 minutes.
Add the can of diced tomatoes, beans and 250ml of the bean water, or what you have if a little less. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and remove and discard the bacon rind.
Cook the pasta as per packet instructions. Drain, reserving about 1 litre of the starchy pasta water and add the pasta to the frypan.
Return the fry-pan to a low – medium heat, gently simmer. Add the remaining oil, starchy pasta water and cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve by ladling the hearty soup into a bowl and top with Parmesan cheese.