We have our own names for pasta e fagioli: bean and pasta soup or vegetable-less minestrone. The latter comes from a time when a bowl of minestrone would be greeted with groans – there were just too many vegetables on display in the one bowl! Some would pick out the green beans, whilst others grimaced at the cabbage. You name a vegetable and someone hated it. I persisted for years but the response never seemed to change.
Then I discovered pasta e fagioli. Beans, tomatoes and pasta. The core ingredients of minestrone that everyone loved, without all the things they loathed. And even better, prep time is minimal. Admittedly it relies on tins of beans, but convenience never hurt anyone. Ironically, I started making this soup at a time when the dislike for minestrone was starting to dissipate. Oh well, nothing like variety.
There are versions of this soup that tell you to cook the pasta separately and then add it to the liquid. Frankly, that’s just more washing up. So I throw it all in the one pot and its ready when the pasta is cooked. If you have any pesto lying around, a dollop on the top works a treat. Enjoy!
- 200g ditalini pasta (small tubes) - or other small tube soup pasta
- a splash of olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 sprig of rosemary, leaves removed
- 2 x 400 g cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 x 400 g can borlotti beans, rinsed and drained
- 425 g can whole tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
- 50g baby spinach
- juice of ½ lemon
- grated parmesan cheese, to serve
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook the onion, celery and carrot until softened, not browned. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another couple of minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, stock and 1 cup of water to the onion mixture and stir through.
- Drain one can of cannellini beans and place on a large plate. Roughly squash with a fork so that their shape disappears. Add the squashed beans, and the other 2 tins of drained beans to the soup mixture. Bring to boil and add the pasta. Reduce to simmer and cook until the pasta is just right. If the soup becomes too thick, add a little extra water.
- Remove from heat, add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, and stir through most of the spinach leaves.
- Add a few extra spinach leaves and a grating of parmesan to each bowl.