Pasta and Beans Soup

Zuppa di Pasta e Fagioli 

Pasta e Fagioli 3Beans, fagioli, are grown throughout the Italian peninsula and Sicily, with most regions having their favorites. With such a good source of protein so readily available, beans form a substantial part of the traditional Italian diet and you’ll find them served in every way imaginable — raw, stewed, baked, steamed, you name it. As one might expect, each of Italy’s regions adds its own distinctive flair to the many basic recipes and that’s certainly true of today’s recipe.

Now, having said that, I must confess that this dish, Pasta e Fagioli, was never served back in the old two-flat. I’ve no idea why but it just wasn’t part of the Bartolini playbook. So, how did I come to prepare it?

The first Christmas after I moved out of my parent’s home, Zia and Uncle gave me a cookbook, “The Romagnoli’s Table”. It was the first cookbook I owned and it remains a cherished possession. What sets this book apart, aside from how it came to be mine, is that it’s the only one that I’ve found that contains recipes that begin with a battuto, just like so many of the Bartolini recipes from back in the day. (You may recall that battuto is a type of Italian soffritto consisting of onion, parsley, garlic, and salt pork.) Well over a dozen years ago, I followed their recipe to make Pasta e Fagioli for the first time and, though I’ve made a few minor changes along the way, I still follow it today.

Like so many wonderful Italian recipes, this is not a complicated dish to prepare nor are the ingredients hard to find, save one. I’ve mentioned before that “good” salt pork is very hard to find. In fact, I’ve given up the search. Here, I’ve chosen to use guanciale. If you cannot find it, you can substitute pancetta or bacon, just so long as it isn’t smoked. A smoked pork product could very well overpower the dish.

Lastly, you may be wondering why I’ve chosen to share this recipe now, at the beginning of Spring, and not during the dead of Winter. There are two reasons for that. In the first place, it’s the beans. While we can get dried beans year-round, fresh beans are only available in the Summer months. Using them to make Pasta e Fagioli adds a wonderful flavor to the dish and should definitely be tried. Secondly, our friends in the Southern Hemisphere are heading into their cooler months and this dish will be welcomed. For them, I’m right on time.

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Pasta e Fagioli 5*     *     *

Pasta and Beans Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves
  • about 1/4 c fresh parsley
  • 2 oz (57 g) guanciale (salt pork, pancetta, or non-smoked bacon may be substituted)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 quarts water
  • 8 oz (230 g) dried Borlotti beans (See Notes)
  • rind from a chunk of Pecorino Romano cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano rind may be substituted)
  • 2 cups pasta (see Notes)
  • grated Pecorino Romano cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano may be substituted)

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Directions

  1. The night before, place the beans in a container and add enough water to cover them by 3 inches. The next morning, pour off the liquid and rinse. The beans will be ready for use.
  2. Make the battuto:
    • Coarsely chop the onion, celery, garlic, and parsley. Add to the guanciale.
    • Heat the blade of a very sharp knife using the burner of your stove.
    • Once hot, begin chopping the mixture of meat and vegetables. Keep chopping/dicing/mincing until a relatively smooth paste results.
  3. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot.
  4. Add battuto and sauté until very lightly browned and fragrant.
  5. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook for a few minutes until they begin to soften.
  6. Add the water, beans, and cheese rind, raise the heat to med-high, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook until beans are softened and thoroughly heated. (See Beans)
  7. Add the raw pasta and continue to cook until done. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
  8. Add hot water if too thick.
  9. Taste and season with salt & pepper, as needed.
  10. Remove the cheese rind and discard.
  11. Serve immediately, garnished with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

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Pasta e Fagioli 1*     *     *

Beans

Beans can be purchased 3 ways.

  1. Canned only require rinsing before use. In this recipe, they will only need to be thoroughly heated as they are already soft.
  2. Fresh can be added to the pot as you would canned beans. They should be cooked within 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Dried beans can be prepared in two ways. No matter which method you choose, they will take about 90 minutes to cook.
    1. Place the beans in a large bowl and add enough water to cover by about 3 inches. Leave overnight, When ready, rinse before using in the recipe. Alternately,
    2. Place dried beans in a pot with enough water to cover, bring to a boil, simmer for 2 minutes, and then turn off the heat. Beans will be ready in one hour. Drain before use.

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Notes

Pssst. Don’t tell Zia that I used a mini-chopper to prepare the battuto.

Because this battuto uses celery, it is a far lighter shade than normal.

I used Borlotti beans in this recipe. You may know them as Roman or cranberry beans. You could, also, use red, kidney, or even cannellini beans, if you like. In short, use whichever beans are available. No Nonna is going to run to the store for Borlotti beans when she has cannellini beans in the pantry.

This recipe used 2 cups dried Borlotti beans. 1 can of beans may be substituted or, if you’re lucky enough to find fresh beans, use about 1.5 pounds (680 g).

Water, not stock, is used here because the battuto will add a great deal to the dish, whereas stock may muddle the flavors.

No need to treat the beans gingerly. Those damaged during the cooking process will only serve to thicken the final dish.

Any small pasta, pastina, will work here. I used ditalini here but have even used a combination of small paste.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

Sack o' Little NecksOne of my all-time favorite ways to serve pasta is to prepare it with clams. It is a tasty dish, one that I cannot resist when I see fresh clams at the fishmonger’s. I’ve shared 2 recipes for pasta with clams, one with a “white” sauce and the other “red”. Today I’ll send you back to the white sauce recipe post, which you can see just by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Maltagliati PreviewMaltagliati Pasta with Pistachio Pesto

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177 thoughts on “Pasta and Beans Soup

    • I’ll put it on the list for you, Mandy, though I won’t serve it until after you finish the marathon. Before the race, you’ll need more carbs than this dish has to offer. 🙂

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  1. I’m looking out my window to rain and mist and cold- I feel like I’m sitting on top of Witch Mountain! This dish would be perfect for this weather but to be honest, I’d eat it any time of year because it’s one of my very favourite pasta dishes. I love the battuto – it would work well with so many other dishes too. It’s real cucina povera – big on flavour, low on cost and winner all round…love it!

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    • Me, too! 🙂 You should talk with Zia about battuto. It was used to start so many dishes — soups, risottos, sauces, braises, & stews. It really does lend the dish a nice depth of flavor. Here, you can taste a hint of the guanciale. Grandpa would always ask if whatever was being cooked for dinner started with a battuto. When Mom & Dad were first married, they lived in an apartment and a neighbor would complain about the noise whenever Mom was chopping the battuto. They weren’t there for long. Today’s battuto was different than my family’s because it includes celery, less parsley, and you keep at it until you have a paste. That’s why I used the mini-chopper. Our battuto is chopped but short of becoming a paste. They wanted bits of salt pork in the pan.

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  4. I absolutely love fresh Borlotti beans – and they are so pretty, speckled pink and red. They do have a slightly different taste than the dried variety. This is a great, classic recipe. Thanks for sharing.

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    • I’m with you about the Borlotti beans and if I’m in heaven when I can find fresh ones at the market. They work so well in this dish.
      Thank you for the visit and for taking the time to comment.

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    • This is typical Italian fare, Colleen. It’s a peasant dish going back to a time when most didn’t eat meat like we do today. Beans were cheap, plentiful, and a good source of protein. Do give this a try. I bet you’ll love it. 🙂

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  5. I love how Italians don’t waste anything and even use the rind of a parmesan cheese to flavour the next dish – I hate to say it but in the house I grew up in, the rinds were just tossed! Terrible! I love the look of this dish and I think I’ve made similar dishes from an authentic Italian cookbook that I have – these are very hearty and comforting meals that don’t cost an arm and a leg to prepare! I love how, when you moved out of home, you were given a cookbook – that’s the gift that keeps on giving! xx

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    • Thanks, Charlie. I have a bag pf parmesan rinds and another for pecorino in my freezer. They’re like gold. Pasta e fagioli is an old peasant’s dish, going back to a time when few could afford meat. Beans were cheap, plentiful, and an excellent source of protein. Italians ate them 2 or 3 times weekly, maybe more.
      Uncle, Zia’s husband, was a special man. He’s the one that would join me for a middle-of-the-night pasta dinner after I came home from a night out with the boys. I really do treasure this cookbook.

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  6. Beans/fagioli are my current favourite ingredient. There’s very little they can’t be paired with. This looks particularly good though John – your site is becoming my go-to source for pasta dish inspiration!

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    • Thanks, Phil. That’s really quite a compliment. I’m currently re-discovering beans. Though I’ve cooked pasta e fagioli all along, there are several other dishes from back in the day that I’ve overlooked. Well, not anymore. Stay tuned. 🙂

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  7. One of my all time favourite dishes cooked from autumn right into spring! Often!! And are there so many delicious recipes for it 🙂 ! Love yours and shall try your borlotti beans next time – I usually use my beloved cannelini, sometimes no pork products at all, making just the usual soffrito and I love a sprig of rosemary in it . . . as I said, so many wonderful ways!! [And can’t wait for your pistachio pesto – I think I have been boring with my nuts 😀 !!]

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    • Thanks, Eha. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, especially considering that you’ve prepared the dish before. I like your idea of using rosemary in the soffritto. I should give it a try. Like you, I consider this a Fall/Winter/Spring dish. Yet, when I see fresh beans at the market in Summer, I cannot resist making it again. So I guess it’s safe to say that I make this year-round. 🙂
      THe pistachio pesto, though, I only make in Winter and Spring. You’ll see. 🙂

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  8. This looks delectable…simplicity at it’s finest! The battuto is new to me and my kitchen – I most certainly will give it try soon. Thanks for sharing, yet another, fantastic dish!

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    • Thanks, Nancy, for the great compliment. It may take a few attempts to master the chopping of a battuto but I can guarantee that you’ll love its aroma when it’s sautéed. Fantastic!

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  9. I will definitely make this soon. The flavors look so incredibly wonderful. This is a great family compromise in our house too….hubby loves pasta and I love beans. I eat so many beans as I need a high fiber diet and prefer not to carb overload on pasta unless it is whole wheat. I have started adding beans to regular pasta dishes or whole wheat pasta and he seems to be ok with that. Thanks for the great recipe.

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    • You very welcome. I’m glad that this works for the both of you. Finding whole wheat pasta certainly is easy enough to do now. Let me know how it gos over. Have a good week.

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  10. you’re right, this would’ve been great during “Chi-beria” and the polar vortex and ALL that S-*-*-W that kept us trapped inside for so many months. But better late than never. It looks so hearty. I love beans.

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  11. What a lovely memory to have that cookbook, useful and emotional. I bet making recipes from it take you right back.
    I recently found out that soaking the beans overnight actually SIDS with digestion as the beans start the sprouting process! I always thought it had something to do with the cooking time (I’ve cooked beans before and after soaking and it seems to make no difference). I’ve also been adding a bit of the Asian spice called asphodel which also supposedly helps with digestion. I adore beans and we have them a couple of times a month. This recipe (sans pasta) is something I’ll definitely try over spinach or a mix with arugula (I love pasta but it doesn’t love me).
    I must confess that your recipe is timely for us too in the northern hemisphere, it’s rather grey and chilly today again, but most if our snow is melted; just a few vestiges of stubborn ice are left in the backyard (4 inches of it) which will take a few arm sunny days to melt entirely.

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    • Good morning, Eva. This is such a flavorful recipe that I bet you could drop the pasta and make it more like a soup. That guanciale really does flavor it, without being overpowering. I’d no idea that soaking beans had any benefits at all, save storage them.
      I once had a cat that loved to play with beans soaking on a counter. I threw away more beans because of her. I finally put them in the oven to keep her from them.
      Glad to hear that your weather is improving. Our snow is gone now and bulbs have cracked through the surface. I’ve got 2 little crocus in bloom but it’s been too cold for them to open. I’ll just be happy to see green again. It’s been far too long. I hope you have a great week, Eva.

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      • Oh how lovely, you have spring breaking through the frozen ground; our grass is starting to turn green but there are no signs of bulbs coming up at all…in fact, there is about 4+5 inches of snow predicted tonight at our cottage! It’s pretty brutal.I hope you have a lovely week too.

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  12. I’m going to try this! We love pasta and beans in my house. This looks gorgeous, John. And just curious, have you spent any time in Marsala? If so, what are your favorite places? Henry and I are planning a trip there in June.

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    • I hope you do enjoy this dish as much as we do. I’m sorry that I didn’t spend time in Marsala. There really is so much to see in Sicily. We sped through the western coast of Sicily on our way to the southern coast. I hope to make it back to Sicily one day and I’m sure you’re going to love it. It’s a beautiful island and the food is fantastic! Buon viaggio!

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  13. I’ve never seen the trick of heating the knife blade before chopping the vegetables – intriguing! Beans are so versatile and nutritious, and very handy indeed (not to mention inexpensive). Just the other evening I made a lovely tomato & chicken sauce with the intent of serving over pasta. At the last minute I added a tin of cannellini beans to the sauce instead, and we enjoyed a casserole-type dinner (and I saved myself the washing up of the pasta pot!).

    A question: when you add the pasta to the beans, is it dried or pre-cooked? I’m guessing pre-cooked? Thanks! And happy Wednesday 😊

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    • G’morning, Mar. Back in the day, the salt pork they used was mostly fat with a very thin line of meat running through it. I believe the heated knife made it easier to cut through the fat. It always fascinated and I watched her chop battuto all of the time. When cooking pasta e fagioli, when the beans are just about ready, add the raw pasta and let it cook in the pot with the beans. The starch created from the cooking pasta will help to thicken the soup. Just remember to stir frequently so that it doesn’t scorch. You may even need to add more hot water, depending upon how thick you like you dish. I hope this helps.

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    • It’s true, Judy. I know where that cookbook is at all times. It means a lot to me. I think we’ve more than a few cold days ahead. Living near Lake Michigan, when the wind blows off of the Lake this time of year, our temps really drop. It’s not so nice now but it’s a real advantage in July and August. 😉

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  14. Sounds delicious and hearty and a recipe I can make in a small RV kitchen. Hope things are finally thawing in your neck of the woods. It’s been a brutal winter for you guys. Sending you some warm temps and sunny skies from Phoenix 🙂

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    • Thank you. Yes, I bet you cold easily prepare this in your RV kitchen. It’s a simple dish without any complicated steps. You’ll like it.
      Yes, though it’s pretty chilly today, we may have turned the corner. At least bulbs are popping out of the ground. Few blooms but that will change soon enough. Yay!

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  15. Battuto. I love that word, I am forwarding this emailed post to my husband who is the main chef in our kitchen, and loves to make a good soffritto for many or our dishes; he will love this.
    Have you asked your Zia why the family did not make Pasta e Fagioli?

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    • I hope your Husband liked what he saw. That little bit of pork in the battuto goes a long way to flavor dishes like this one. I have spoken to Zia about this dish specifically. She says that it sounds like something her Mother would have made during the Depression but that she has no recollection of it. Grandma was a wiz in the kitchen, able to feed her family of 4 with the most sparse of ingredients.

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  16. I still make hearty bean dishes when the weather gets warmer, although less frequently than in the chilly months. This is such a classic dish! And one I make at least a couple of times a year (my version, which differs a bit from yours; I definitely need to try yours). I agree salt pork is impossible to find (good stuff, that is). I often do substitute bacon, but not much because you’re right that its flavor can overpower other things. Good tip about not using stock — I sometimes do, but the flavor certainly is cleaner without. Good recipe — thanks.

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    • HI, John. I love this dish so much that I’ll make it year-round, too, though not when Summer is at its hottest. I cannot think of a better gift for Zia than a piece of good salt pork. Just like Mom once did, she laments the lack of salt pork and how it’s affected her cooking. Guanciale worked very well here. My days of searching for salt pork have come to an end. Thanks for visiting always writing a great comment when you do, John.

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  17. lol I was just about to ask if instead of the interesting chopping method it’s not easier to use a food processor – and then I saw your “Psst” remark… 😀

    What a great and earthy dish this is. I love the celery in there. I’m thinking of making it with fresh broad beans, as I’ve seen the first ones at the store. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

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    • Hello, Ronit. Since this battuto is more paste-like, a chopper.food processor works fine. It’s probably because it’s being used in a soup. For other dishes, though, Zia is pretty adamant about not making a paste. There should be little bits of salt pork — guanciale — in the battuto. That’s better achieved with a hot knife, the heat helping to cut through the port fat. Still, if you use a food processor, I’ll never tell. 🙂

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  18. Great post, John! All my Brazilian friends will appreciate your concern and care for their slow march towards the winter… 🙂

    (I might borrow this explanation too in the future, I hope you won’t mind…. 🙂

    I made this dish once, as part of my Secret Recipe assignment long long time ago – I now want to make your version, sounds scrumptious, as everything you cook!

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    • You may borrow whatever you need, Sally, without giving it a second thought.
      I don’t go very long without making pasta e fagioli. It just so quick and easy to do and the dish so good. I make and freeze the leftovers. I love knowing I’ve a bowl of pasta e fagioli on ice, waiting for me. 🙂

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  19. I love the simplicity of this John. You have given some very good information here…not using smoked pork being one of them. It’s such a natural selection when making beans to chose salty pork. And also using fresh beans. I may try to locate some fresh beans…do you recommend a particular one? I see you did use dried barlotti beans here, but am wondering how fava might work. I just started seeing fresh fava beans this week. We are adding more beans to our diet and this is a great recipe. (I still haven’t depleted my harissa paste!)

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    • Thank you. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed this post. You can use whatever beans you have in this dish. Borlotti are my preference but you might prefer little red beans or kidney beans or cannellini beans or pinto beans even fave. Just remember that if you use fresh fave, you have to peel them twice. Once to get them out of their pods and again after you blanch them for about a minute in boiling water. Canned fave are usually already peeled. Dried fave most often need to be peeled. Soak them overnight, blanch them as you would if they were fresh, and then peel them. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

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  20. Pasta e fagioli is a welcome favorite any time of the year for me. I absolutely love this dish and have been making it for my family for as long as I can remember. My mom used to make a rather hearty and “dry” version of it when I was a kid and I preferred to have my pasta and beans a bit more soup-like, the way my best friends mother used to make it, so I started making it myself pretty early on. I guess I was always a foodie! I now have a pot of beans simmering on the stove thanks to your post! Cheers.

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    • I’m with you, Laura. Unless it’s frightfully hot outdoors, I’ll eat pasta e fagioli any day. I like mine just a little soupy but certainly not dry. Still, even if dry, I wouldn’t refuse a dish if it was set before me. So, how did your beans turn out? I bet your version is a delicious one.

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  21. I must confess that eating beans and pasta seems a bit weird to me, but that’s probably because I’ve never had it before 🙂 Well.. I’ve had pasta salads that feature beans I guess, and they were delicious, and actually have had warm pasta with mayo and green peas and that was delicious too… I should give this a try, and report back! Thanks for the post John! I’ve been MIA lately, work has been a little more demanding lately I guess!

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    • Thanks, Mary. It is, after all, a peasant dish from a time when most couldn’t afford meat but everyone had beans. You could feed a family on pennies … er … lira. 🙂

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  22. Hi John, this looks just lovely. I recently prepared a pork and bean stew, inspired by the old ‘pork and beaner’ expression. I will post in a couple of weeks. Though mine uses only tined beans and really is a winter warmer. I’d better get on with it! This looks delicious, light and wholesome.
    Best,
    Conor

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    • Your bean dish sounds great, Conor, and I’ll be waiting for the recipe.
      This dish is old school Italian cooking, from a time when meat was way too expensive for most. Today, even though meat is more plentiful, beans remain a mainstay of their diet. Pasta e fagioli will always be my favorite. Give me a bowl and a chunk of bread and I’m more than happy. 🙂

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  23. I like this dish and I certainly like your version, John! I’ve never seen fresh borlotti beans around here, but I’ll look for them in Italy when I’m there in July (I don’t know when the season is though).
    I would also use a blender to make a battuto. We don’t have to do everything like ‘le nonne’, as long as it ends up tasting the same. Someone who was supposed to teach me more about Italian cooking tried to convince me to do everything by hand while it was 90 degrees plus. I’m all for food processors, blenders, and stand mixers. Not to mention sous-vide 😉

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    • I love borlotti beans, Stefan, but if I can get fresh “little red” beans or navy, I’ll use them without thinking twice about it. I think that a food processor works well here because the battuto will be used in a soup. Most would want it to pretty much dissolve in the pot. Zia is pretty adamant about not chopping the battuto until a paste is formed. There are supposed to be bits and pieces of salt pork in the end. With her knife skills, it’s easier to do this by hand with a hot knife. I chop the garlic, parsley and onion by hand as fine as possible. I then put it in the food process with the guanciale/pancetta/salt pork and pulse it until the pork is well chopped It’s not quite the same but it works for me. Thanks, Stefan, for always commenting and for being so supportive and encouraging when you do. It’s very much appreciated.

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  24. Actually it is quite perfect for the temperatures we are having here. Perfectly in season! 😉
    Yes to guanciale!!! It simply takes the dish to another level, don’t you think?

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    • With cold weather here today, I wish I had a bowl of this for lunch! Guanciale really does “make” this dish. It gives it a subtle pork flavor that is so delicious.

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  25. I have never made a battuto… though I do have a mini-chopper. 😉 The dish is beautiful. I am so glad that Zia and Uncle gave you the cookbook; I am a huge fan of beans (the magical fruit) and can’t wait to try your dish. It seems hearty and flavorful; plus, it is definitely colder in another hemisphere. 🙂 Best, Shanna

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    • Thanks, Shanna. You’ll find this dish a breeze to make and it is so very budget friendly. Those poor peasants didn’t have much and a pot of pasta e fagioli could feed the family for literally pennies a serving. Like any soffritto, a battuto is a great way to start a dish. It really does infuse it with a wonderful flavor. I hope you’re having a good week

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  26. A good friend made this for me once because she couldn’t believe that I had never had it! So earthy and warm-this was a dish that was hearty enough for any winter’s day but perfect enough for comfort food any day of the year. Love the word battuto-kind of slides off your tongue! Make me think maybe I’m part Italian!

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    • I can identify with your friend. A life without pasta e fagioli is hardly worth living! I; glad she made it for you, Abbe. A battuto is such a wonderful way to start so many dishes. It really does add a nice depth to the flavors in the pot. I’m just starting to use it in mor of my dishes, now that I’ve found that guanciale is such a good substitute for the salt pork.

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  27. I’ve never been crazy about Pasta e Fagioli (or “fa-jool” as Steve’s family pronounces it). But, doing it with fresh beans might just change my opinion. And we’ve got some of Steve’s guanciale in the freezer, likely nearing if not past its recommended life. So … there’s no excuse!

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    • Fresh beans do make a difference, Michelle. Everyone always praises dried beans but once you’ve cooked with fresh, you realize what’s been given up.Funny your mentioning guanciale in the freezer. Just this weekend, Zia and I were chatting and I mentioned that I’d left some guanciale for her in her freezer. She’s no recollection of it. Looks like I need to buy her some more. 🙂

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  28. So kind of you John – gives me time to collect enough Pecorino/Parmigiano rind! Thank you too for the admission you used a little mechanical assistance with your battuto – I’ve not been very successful achieving a fine-textured mixture (though the smell has been glorious). Won’t breathe a word in Zia’s direction but dear – what is a “mini chopper”? 🙂

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    • Hello, Meredith. When I first moved away from home, I bought a little electric chopper It was a fore-runner of today’s food processors but much smaller. I just cannot get rid of it. I’ve got a 3 bowl food processor and blender but my kitchen wouldn’t be the same without this little thing.
      Being this battuto will be used in a soup, a paste works best and that’s easiest to get with a food processor/mini-chopper, unless you’ve got Zia’s knife skills. Now, for any other type of dish, Zia insists that a paste is not what’s wanted. Lacking her knife skills, I’ll chop the parsley, onion, and garlic together until the are finely chopped. I’ll then put them into the food processor with the guanciale/salt pork/pancetta and pulse it until the pork is diced. It’s not the Zia-approved method but it sure is easier. (I hope she doesn’t read this far down in the comments. 🙂 )

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  29. I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard of this dish, or if I did, I didn’t understand that beans were a main ingredient. I’m delighted and can’t wait to make this. We eat a lot of beans in our household. I was raised with a southern grandmother who continually had beans and ham cooking on the stovetop. I think this could easily become our #1 way to cook the beans. I can see how fun it would be to try different beans with different meats. And now I will eagerly anticipate pistachio pesto. Oh my goodness, John. My whole family thanks you. 🙂

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    • Aw, Debra. You’re too kind. I think you’ll be amazed at how simple this dish is and how easy to prepare. You can easily see why it’s a mainstay of traditional Italian cooking. They could feed a family for pennies a serving — and it’s not like it wasn’t an enjoyable meal This is easily a favorite of mine.
      I hope you’ll like the pistachio pesto post. It will resurface again when I use it on pizza. Shhh! I’ve given you a sneak preview. 🙂

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  30. I had cannellini beans on my salad tonight, thanks to Karista’s Kitchen and her lovely recipe. Now I have another bean recipe to try. We’ve been eating healthier around here and by “healthier” I mean fewer heavy meat dishes. Beans are such a great source of protein! I have never made a battuto?! I was nervous reading how you heat up the knife.. very very interesting. I might have to look that one up. But wondering, could you use a food processor, if one was a bit nervous about handling a hot knife?? Just ask my son, I’ve become quite clumsy of late, dropping utensils everywhere.. xx

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    • Hi, Barb. Though traditionalists might not like it, sure, you can use a food processor, especially for this dish. Here, you work the battuto into a paste, perfect for soups. Normally, you want there to be bits and pieces of the pork and a paste isn’t desired. Check out my response to The Wanderlust Gene two comments before yours. I explain how I use a food processor for dishes other than soup. I hope you try both the dish and starting it with a battuto. Like a very good soffritto, it really will add a great deal of flavor to your dish. Good luck!

      Like

  31. Now that is a meal. I love the sprinkling of Pecorino Romano cheese, it looks like magic has been at work, and it has in a way creating comfort food from pantry items. Excellent dish for in between seasons.

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    • That’s a great way of looking at these old, traditional dishes, EllaDee. The cooks just didn’t have any meat but there were hungry mouths to feed. Here, with a little bit of pasta and a couple handfuls of beans, the family could be fed and fed well. It certainly works for me!

      Like

  32. I just learned so many things here. First, what Pasta e Fagioli really is. Second, that a Borlotti and Cranberry bean are one in the same, because I never see “Borlotti” here. Then I learned that instead of trying to keep my parmesan rinds in the fridge I need to freeze them. And I also re-learned what battuto is, and since I have a mini chopped, that is definitely the way I’d go. Like a few others here, I think this dish would be fantastic any time of year!

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    • Hello, Betsy. Glad that you found this post to be so useful. The reason a chopper/food processor works so well there is because this battuto is a paste, which works best in soup. Zia insists that one doesn’t want a paste for battuto’s other uses. Lacking Zia’s knife skills, I’ll chop the parsley, onion, and garlic together until the are finely chopped. I’ll then put them into the food processor with the guanciale/salt pork/pancetta and pulse it until the pork is diced. It’s not the Zia-approved method but it sure is easier. Don’t tell Zia that I’m not only taking a shortcut but that I’m showing others how to do it, too. 🙂

      Like

  33. I must get a handle on this battuto, it seems like it is a very versatile method for a tasty pasta dish. These beans ! delicious !.. Our John would especially move this dish.. take care.. c

    Like

    • Hey, Celi! You can get a handle on this battuto. First of all, for this dish, you want a paste, so, just stick the ingredients into your food processor and let it go. For other dishes, however, Zia insists that a paste isn’t good. She wants bits of the pork in her battuto. I don’t have her knife skills and getting my battuto to look like hers if a fool’s errand, so, I cheat. Together I chop the garlic, parsley, and onion until they’re all diced. I put them into a food processor with the salt pork/pancetta/guanciale and pulse it until the guanciale is nicely chopped.This way you’ll get the bits of pork like Zia wants but no big pieces of garlic or onion. Next time you come to town, you’re leaving with some guanciale. You’re going to love it.

      Like

      • Won’t be too long, soon everyone will be settled and I can escape for a few hours! Then shopping we will go. thank you for the description of the batutto, that makes perfect sense.. c

        Like

  34. I love beans (any kind). I grew up eating them. My mother used the same method you mentioned here to cook them. But, I learned two things today; battuto and Borlotti beans. Ive seen ditalini in the store, but never tried them. The ingredients sound fantastic and the beans look so plump and appetizing. I haven’t seen fresh beans around here though, especially borlotti. If I ever have to cook beans, it has to be dried. Another mouth watering dish, John. By the way, I cheated and bought a “gourmet harissa sauce” (Moroccan style) and will use it to cook your harissa chicken for dinner tomorrow. I got tired looking for the seeds.:D Thanks for sharing all these wonderful, mouth-watering recipes, John. 🙂

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    • Hello, Anna! I enjoy beans, too, especially Borlotti. You may see them as cranberry or roman beans. They’re popular — though not easy to find fresh. Do try to make this dish, though, with or without fresh beans. It really is an authentic traditional Italian way of cooking and the dish tastes fantastic.
      I have a store nearby that makes its own harissa and I love it. I have no qualms about buying some if I’ve run out or don’t feel like making a batch. I was glad to read last night that you both enjoyed the harissa chicken recipe. Such a nice mix of flavors and the aroma gets me every time. I made it again Saturday night and will be having leftovers tonight. I can’t wait!

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      • I’ll be on the look out for these beans. I haven’t seen them anywhere yet. I’ll definitely try one of you pasta recipes. My husband likes a pasta dish once in a while.
        I made a lot of Harissa chicken, so we had some left over and oh…they tasted even better since the chicken has been marinated with the sauce. I absolutely love the sauce. I found myself dipping my bread. :D.

        Like

  35. I love the photo of the clams in the blue net. Gorgeous!

    Now, I am very excited about this recipe. I volunteer at our local food bank, and right now I’m trying to find bean recipes. (Right now we have an over-abundance of beans and I’m trying to help our clients make more nutritious meals out of beans.) I think with a few adjustments and a little experimenting, we could add this to our collection. Thanks!

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    • Thank you, Ruth, for your kind words. This dish’s origins lie with the peasants. Meat was rarely available but beans were plentiful. With a little bit of pasta and a couple handfuls of beans, a family could be fed a nutritious meal. Sounds like it would be tailor made for the food bank crowd. It’s such an easy recipe and you could change it to suit a variety of tastes. Good luck!

      Like

  36. We still have a chill in the air so this would be great for this weekend, John. Have not removed the flannel sheets!
    Thanks for all the nice likes and comments on my blog. Your photographs are looking great!
    Hoping you are seeing more signs of Spring each day. xxoo

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    • Hello, Ruth. Thanks for the encouragement. I have to be honest. I make this dish year-round. It is very good and, if you prepare it, you’ll see how simple it is. There is nothing complicated about it and the payoff is a great meal.
      I have 3 crocus in bloom in my front yard. They may not seem like much to most people but I’m taking them as a sign that Winter has left us.
      Gosh! I hope I didn’t jinx us!! 🙂

      Like

  37. Pingback: Pasta and Beans | Italian Food & Wine | Sc...

  38. Pasta and beans is one of my favourite combinations. So much so, I always have my chilli with some sort of pasta. I love this dish, John and I would probably make it whether it was chilly or hot outside. Of course, living where I do, it’s cold until May! When I lived in Houston, we had a small farm close by to us and every spring they would have the best fresh beans; pinto, Lima, creamer, they were so good! I haven’t been able to find them here and I miss those fresh beans. But I make a lot from dried so I will do that…minus the salt pork 🙂
    I can’t wait to see your pistachio pesto post! I’ve seen this pesto pop up quite a bit recently, I’m sure yours is the best 🙂

    Like

    • Hello, Nazneen. I wish I knew of a good vegetarian substitute for pork but I’m not familiar enough with those products. I know there are vegan/vegetarian bacon products but I’d be afraid that the “smoke” flavor would over power this dish. Still, a meatless battuto will give the dish a nice flavor, to be sure. It will be more of a soffritto than battuto but it will still work its magic. 🙂
      I hope you can find some fresh beans in your area. Do you go to the farmers markets? If so, maybe you can ask around. Someone may be able to help you. I hope so! The pesto post is written and scheduled. It’s another money saver because it doesn’t use pine nuts and only half the basil. And it tastes good, too! 🙂
      Have a great week, Nazneen

      Like

  39. Pasta and beans…. with guanciale! Yes, yes, yes! Why didn’t we think of that. What a great idea. I love guanciale in carbonara, but it never occurred to me to use it in Pasta Fagiole. About the only thing I use salt pork in is chowder, and now you’ve got me wondering, if there were an Italian on board… As a young man I waited on Margaret and Franco Romagnoli (I think their show may have been produced at WGBH in Boston), and then I went to their, alas, short lived, restaurant. I think they were ahead of the game. I didn’t recognize much of what was on the menu, but I do still remember the wine, Inferno. A remarkable couple. Ken

    Like

    • Thanks, Ken. You’re too kind.Not able to find good salt pork — or some that would pass Zia’s standards — I’ve made this soup with bacon — too smoky; with prosciutto — too strong a flavor; with pancetta — not strong enough; and now guanciale — just right. This is such a clean dish that any addition is tasted. The flavor of guanciale is present but just a hint in the background. Just like the battuto the women made when they had good salt pork
      I cannot believe that you served the Romagnoli’s. What a small world! Over the years I’ve moved many times but I always knew where that book was packed. It’s my most prized cookbook, hands down.

      Like

  40. What a true treasure your cook book is and I am so happy you are sharing your knowledge of true Italian cooking. The dish looks simple and easy enough to prepare…perfect for any week night!

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    • Thank you so much. Yes, that cookbook is my favorite. Pasta 3 fagioli is a classic Italian dish, few ingredients, simply prepared. The flavor, though, is anything but simple. Do give it a try. I bet you’ll love it. 🙂

      Like

    • Pasta e fagioli is an Italian classic and like any Italian classic, the recipes vary from district to district, town to town, even house to house. Your Grandparents’ version has more vegetables, making it even more hearty. I bet it’s delicious.

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  42. A beautiful dish as always. I think you’re one of very few people who can make a dish with beans look lovely. You know growing up my mother never cooked with beans other than the traditional Boston Baked beans so I never have any idea of what to use in bean dishes or chili.
    I remember The Romagnoli’s Table! I used to own it but somehow in my many moves it was misplaced/lost and you’ve got me wondering if it’s still in print. I’ll have to look on Amazon.

    Like

    • Thank you, Diane. We didn’t eat beans as frequently as many Italians but they certainly weren’t strangers to our table. The Romagnoli’s Table is no longer in print. I think you’ll be surprised to see what they’re asking for one in good condition. I know I was. I wish I hadn’t lost the book jacket. 🙂

      Like

  43. This looks amazing-guanciale is quite tricky to find outside London, but I have often used pancetta and it’s still yummy. Thanks for sharing-I can’t wait to try it-it is raining in London, so it would be a perfect supper.

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    • Thank you. Pancetta is a good substitute. For my tastes, most pork products will do, so long as it isn’t smoked. The smokiness will overpower the rest of the dish’s ingredients. And yes, this would be perfect on a chilly, rainy day. 🙂
      Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

      Like

  44. Bouno Sera John! I think this dish is perfectly timed. Even in Hong Kong, we keep changing from hot to very cool and damp days. Today is one of those cool and damp days and this dish would certainly fill up my boys,.I might need at least 2 bowls of it but very inexpensive to make so that is all good. On our last trip to Tuscany there were so many bean dishes, it was really prevalent in wine country. Cherish that little cookbook of yours as it sounds like it has many treasures. Take Care, BAM

    Like

    • Buongiorno, BAM! This dish was created with feeding families in mind. Before modern times, meat was hard to come by for most peasants. Beans, though, were plentiful. Looking at the ingredients, they could feed their family for pennies — and it was a nutritious meal, too. Go ahead. Make a double batch and watch your teenagers gobble it up. I bet you’ll even get a bowl. 🙂
      Hope you’re having a great week,

      Like

  45. So many chefs say to save your cheese rinds so I have a small stack accumulating in the freezer. I now have something to use them for! We love when you post a recipe simple enough for us to give it a whirl. Thanks!

    Like

    • I use those cheese rinds all of the time. I put one in just about any kind of soup, in sauces, some stews. Experiment. I’ve yet to taste the dish and think that the cheese rind was a mistake. This recipe epitomizes traditional Italian cooking. Basic ingredients combined in a simple way. And it’s tasty, too. 🙂

      Like

  46. John, I love beans in almost any form. We actually had a version of this as a side in the restaurant with something delicious. I loved it. I always save my cheese rinds so nice to know I’m not the only person doing that. I throw them in soups or wherever I want to infuse some lovely cheesy flavor. I’m definitely putting this on my play list. Yum.

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    • Hello, Susie. This is a true Italian classic, which means that every Italian cook has a version. I really do love it and hope you’ll post your version one day. I’d certainly like to try it. Those rinds are like gold. I have all different sizes and choose the one to match the pot size.
      I hope that when you do try this recipe, that you’ll enjoy it as much as we do. It’s a true favorite here.

      Like

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. If you think reading about pasta e fagioli brings back memories, wait until you sit down to a bowl of it. It’s a time machine. 🙂
      Thanks for the visit and for taking the time to comment.

      Like

  47. Now that’s my kind of pasta dish!! Sounds incredible, John. And I can’t wait for that pasta with pistachio pesto. I’m drooling just thinking about it. 🙂

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  48. buon giorno, John, ti ringrazio molto per aver portato all’attenzione dei tuoi tantissimi followers questo piatto tipico della cucina italiana! un piatto semplice ma ricco di vitamine e di sostatanza un piatto generoso e saporito! poi voi lo descrivete così ampiamente e bene, corredandolo con grandi foto! siete un mago!

    good morning, John, thank you very much for bringing to the attention of your many followers this typical dish of Italian cuisine! a simple dish but rich of vitamins and sostatanza a generous and tasty dish! then you describe so widely and well, accompanied with great photos! you are a wizard!

    Like

    • Buona sera, Ventis. I am so glad that you liked this post. I value your opinion greatly. Pasta e Fagioli is such a wonderful dish and a perfect example of traditional Italian cooking. I’m always glad to share these recipes. Thank you for your kind words, Ventis. Have a great week.

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  49. Hi John. If there are dishes I love it is anything with beans. Perfect timing as you say for us . This is great encouragement to get out the slow cooker and go and look for some gorgeous Gianciale. Thanks too because now I am looking forward to winter…..soups. beans, pasta. Lovely

    Like

    • If you love beans, this dish is for you! It’s so simple to make and has such great flavor. Truth be told, I make it year-round. It’s too good to wait until it’s cold outdoors.

      Like

    • Yes, with your current weather, pasta e fagioli would be perfect. It will help take the sting out of a few of those wintry days. Don’t forget a nice chunk of some crusty bread. 🙂

      Like

  50. John, you KNOW, don’t you, that if I mention to Teresa and Rita at the Cheese Shop that you’ve used guanciale to make battuto, that I’ll end up getting another lecture.. 😀 But I’m with you – I know it’s not traditional, but if I could, I’d use guanciale in everything, I adore it! Your beans and pasta would be a favourite here. I thought at first that THIS was the first dish that our old neighbour Mrs M had brought over to us during our first week here, but Pete reminded me that it was actually a pasta and peas dish (made with short pasta and lots of spring onions/scallions). x

    Like

    • Oh, I do know, Celia. The thing is that some 30 or 40 years ago, our pig industry started breeding leaner pigs. With the fat went all of the good salt pork. Zia hasn’t made a battuto in years because of it. Using guanciale is as close to the old battuto that I can get. Now I just have to convince Zia to try it. I may have to make if for her. She’ll probably take the knife from me and take over once she sees how bad my knife skills are. 🙂
      Peas and pasta go so well together. We always serve them together in the Spring and I cannot wait for the farmers markets to open so that I can get fresh peas. Love ’em!

      Like

  51. I’ve learned to love beans over the last few years, but I don’t think I ever would have thought to have beans in pasta. I wonder if I would like that. I guess I’ve had it in goulash before, but that’s not a dish I ever care to eat again. That was one of those that mom would make me sit in my seat and eat before I could be excused and I would always try to out sit her patience. LOL. I’m going to have to think on this one. If I can get past the thought of goulash I might give it a try. 😉

    Like

    • Never fear, Kristy. This is soo not goulash — which I do happen to like, by the way. This is about as traditional an Italian dish as you’ll find and it’s really inexpensive to prepare. I bet you’ll like it. 😉

      Like

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