Learn how to make Italian pasta with beans (pasta e fagioli)

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Last Updated on November 9, 2023 by Laura Teso

Italian pasta with beans, i.e. pasta e fagioli [PAHS-tah eh fah-JOH-lee], is a typical dish of many Italian regions. Each region (or even each town) has its own version. Mine is the Venetian one. Pasta e fagioli was once the dish of the poor people because the ingredients do not cost much. But it’s rich in protein so to give a lot of energy. It was in fact called “la carne dei poveri”, poor’s meat.

WARNING 

  • If you want to use dried beans, you have to start the day before. Because they have to soak in a bowl covered with water for about 8 hours (up to 24, depending on the type). After this process they double in weight and volume, so use a suitable container. Rinse and drain, and then you can proceed with the recipe
  • In order to avoid the unpleasant consequences of the beans (you know what I mean), add to the boiling water a piece of kombu seaweed

Italian pasta with beans recipe

My Italian pasta with beans Ingredients (4 servings)

  • Borlotti beans (60 g per person if you use dried beans, 100 g per person if you use fresh and cleaned beans). Much better if you have beans from Lamon (near Belluno).
  • Pasta (50 g per person if you prefer dry pasta, 40 g per person if you prefer fresh egg pasta). Personally my favourite pasta for this recipe are ditalini (which means little thimbles).
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil

Pasta e fagioli Preparation

  1. Cut onion, carrot and celery in large pieces.
  2. Put them with the beans in a large pot with 2 litres of water, and cover with the lid. Let the water boil (medium/low heat). If the water tends to come out, reduce the heat and put the lid a little sideways in order to let a little bit of steam go out.
  3. Leave it boiling for 1 hour and a half up to 2 hours.
  4. At this point, turn off, keep aside a ladle of beans and pass the rest to the vegetable mill, in order to obtain a thick cream.
  5. Put the cream back on the fire (together with the beans set aside) until the water boils.
  6. It is only at this point that you can add salt and pepper. Then, add the pasta. The cooking times are longer than those in water so you’ll have to taste it from time to time.
  7. This phase is very delicate because the cream tends to stick easily to the bottom of the pot, so you have to mix very often. Add water if you notice that it decreases too much.
  8. When ready, you can serve it with a generous amount of grated Grana Padano cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Leftovers tip. When I was a little girl my mother used to cook this soup during winter. She often prepared some additional servings, in order to eat them the day after. It is very tasty in fact mixing this soup with raw radicchio. If you want to learn more about this Venetian chicory, here is my post about radicchio.

Buon appetito! [bwohn ahp-peh-TEE-toh]Enjoy!