Friday, January 14, 2011

Beans Soup for a cold winter supper

Bean soup is traditionally slowly cooked in terracotta pots, often with the addition of prosciutto or pork meat to enhance its flavor. There are infinite variations of this recipe as almost every region of Italy has a different way of making “Pasta Fasul” (the way this dish is know in the United States).

Beans Soup

11 oz (315 gr) dry borlotti beans
1 quart (approximately 1 liter) water 
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
2 oz (60 gr) pancetta (substitute with un-smoked bacon), finely chopped 
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 stick celery, finely diced
1 carrot, finely chopped 
2 tablespoons fresh ripe tomato, finely diced 
2 cups (460 cc) broth 
salt and pepper 
5 oz (140 gr) short ditali pasta, or spaghetti broken in ½ inch (1–2 cm) pieces
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, for topping

Clean and wash the beans the night before. Place them in a container, and cover with fresh water. Let the beans soak in the water overnight.  

The next day, when ready to cook, drain the beans.  

In a stockpot, pour 1 quart (1 liter) water and add the beans. Boil for about 20 minutes or until the beans are tender. Drain the beans and reserve part of the cooking water.

In a pot (I am using a traditional terracotta pan), pour the extra-virgin olive oil, and turn the heat to medium. Add the bacon, onion, celery, and carrot, finely chopped together. Sauté for 2 - 3 minutes, until the onion becomes soft.  Stir in the tomato.
Transfer about one third of the beans to a plate. Using a potato masher, reduce the beans to a paste.

Add to the pot the beans . . .
. . . the puréed beans . . .
. . . the broth . . .
. . . and the beans cooking water. Bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the ingredients are well blended.
Add the pasta and cook for the time indicated by the manufacturer, checking for readiness from time to time. Pasta is ready when al dente (firm but not too soft or overcooked). Adjust the salt if necessary. 

Place the soup in a large terrine or single serving dishes. Drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil and serve warm.

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