Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta with Beans)
- 450g (1lb) dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight or 4 cans ready cooked.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 75g (3oz) bacon, diced
- 2 litres (2 ½ pints) water
- 175g (6oz) dried pasta
- handful of parsley
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- salt and pepper
- grated parmesan cheese (although some people leave this out and prefer to drizzle the soup with olive oil)
- Warm olive oil in a large pan, add bacon if you are using it and sauté for 3 minutes. Add onion, carrots, celery and sauté for 5 minutes until slightly softened but not brown.
- Add garlic and tomatoes with their juice and simmer for 10 minutes. If using uncooked, presoaked beans add them together with 8 cups of the water and herbs.
- Bring to a simmer and cook until beans are quite tender, at least an hour and up to 90 minutes, checking to keep the soup liquid. You may need to add at least the remaining 2 cups of water.
- If using cooked beans cook for about 30 minutes.
- Taste for salt and adjust. You could freeze at this stage.
- Making sure you have enough liquid, add the pasta. (My mother would cook the pasta separately) Cook until tender. Add several grinds of fresh black pepper. Pass the grated cheese at the table.