Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)
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.
- 12 oz. dried borlotti or cranberry beans, soaked overnight
- 2 oz. pancetta, minced
- 1 1⁄2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and minced
- 1⁄2 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.