Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli (Italian bean and pasta soup) using Barilla risoni and Mutti tomatoes

Also called pasta fazool (or pasta fasul), pasta e fagioli is not a precise recipe – add more or less chilli or garlic to suit your taste, alter the ratio of pasta to beans if you prefer more of one or the other and add more or less water to give it a soupier or heartier consistency. Whatever you do, it’s even better the next day! It will thicken up when it’s left to stand, just add more water when you reheat. Always use good canned Italian tomatoes, such as Mutti, for the best result. The sambal oelek has no place in this recipe culturally, but it’s my favourite way to add a quick chilli hit to any dish (and the brand I use, Conimex, is just chilli and salt with no Asian flavour); use dried chilli flakes if you prefer. Sometimes it’s fun to match the most rustic dish with a special wine – and one of my favourite little luxuries is aged Aussie riesling. One from Leasingham in Australia’s premier riesling region, Clare Valley, will still have plenty of spring in its step along with lovely aged complexity and make for a very indulgent supper.

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a hearty main

Ingredients
  • 100g risoni, fregola, or other small pasta shapes
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Salt flakes, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sambal oelek
  • 400g crushed Italian canned tomatoes
  • 400g canned cannellini or borlotti beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Freshly grated parmesan, for serving
Method
  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add pasta and cook until it’s not quite al dente (1 minute less than packet instructions).
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add onion, garlic and a good pinch of salt and cook over low heat until soft but not coloured.
  3. Add sambal oelek and tomato and cook for 5 minutes, crushing regularly with a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Stir in beans, crushing some of them lightly, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until pasta is ready.
  5. Drain cooked pasta, add to beans. Add hot water and stir well to combine, bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and leave to rest for a few minutes.
  6. Serve with grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil over the top.

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