Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)

See the RecipeChristopher Hirsheimer

The Italians love beans—both the legumes of the Old World, like chickpeas, favas, and lentils, and such New World-derived varieties as borlotti and cannellini. This famous dish is commonly made with borlotti beans, but cranberry beans work just as well.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)
This famous dish, which the Italians call pasta e fagioli, is commonly made with borlotti beans, but cranberry beans work just as well.
Yield: serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. dried borlotti or cranberry beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 oz. pancetta, minced
  • 1 12 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and minced
  • 12 stalk celery, minced
  • 3 sprigs parsley, trimmed and minced
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 2 small sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 fresh sage leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 oz. fettuccine, broken into small pieces

Instructions

  1. Drain beans and put in a large heavy pot. Add pancetta, 1 cup of the olive oil, onions, celery, parsley, tomato paste, and 6½ cups cold water. Mince 1 clove of the garlic and 1 sprig of rosemary and add to pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are very tender, about 2 ½ hours.
  2. Meanwhile, heat remaining ½ cup oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add sage, remaining 2 cloves garlic, and 1 sprig rosemary and cook until garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Remove sage, garlic, and rosemary from oil and discard, reserving flavored oil.
  3. Transfer half the soup to a food processor and purée until smooth. Stir back into pot, then stir in flavored oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Add pasta to soup and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 15 minutes. Garnish with parsley and a drizzle of olive oil, if you like.