Pasta e Fagiole alla veneta. (Borlotti Bean soup with pasta, Venetian Style)

Recipe for 6 generous servings.
500 grms dried Borlotti Beans.
200 grms broken spaghetti, small macaroni or any small pasta of your choice.
1 medium onion and 2 stalks of celery very finely chopped.
2 cloves garlic very finely chopped.
1 heaped tablespoon of tomato concentrate.
Bouquet garni wrapped in string of bay, rosemary and sage.
A tea cup of extra virgin olive oil, 4 large rosemary and sage sprigs, 2 leaves of bay, 2 crushed cloves of garlic.
Greated Parmesan for final garnish and flavouring.

Soak dried beans in cold water overnight. Thoroughly rinse and put into pot with onion, celery, garlic, and bouquet garni. Cover the beans with about 2 inches of cold water. Bring to the boil and fast boil for 3 minutes. Turn heat down and skim. Add tomato puree , a teaspoon of salt and simmer until beans are soft. DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO BREAK UP. When beans are cooked strain off nearly all the liquid and keep in a separate saucepan. Remove two thirds of the beans and add to liquid. Then mince, or pass the remaining beans through a mouli- legumes, with some of the liquid to make a puree. DON’T use a processor this will make the soup go pink and you will lose the lovely dark brown colour .Boil the pasta of your choice in salted water until al dente and add to soup.
Bring the olive oil and fresh herbs to boil and let infuse on the side of the stove for at least 30 minutes. Pass the flavoured oil through a sieve into the thickened soup stirring with a wooden spoon.
Add freshly ground pepper and salt to suit your taste, add a handful of ground Parmesan cheese to the pot to enrich the soup.
Chef’s notes: This is a classic rustic vegetarian soup from the Veneto. In winter they add a hunk of pancetta or streaky to the pot and remove it at the end. If you have an old end piece of Parmesan you can add this to the pot as well. You shouldn’t use tinned beans, you will lose the texture and colour. This is the actual recipe from “The Cipriani” Hotel. It has a taste that is richly satisfying.

Contribution from Jim Grimes


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