Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta & Bean Soup)

1st February 2018

Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Sophie Davidson

“I make this dish all the time. If you’re using fresh pasta, it’s very absorbent so you might need more water at the end. You could also add guanciale to the soffrito, it would make it very tasty.”
Rachel Roddy, food writer, Rome

Serves 4


250g dried borlotti beans, or 1kg of fresh beans in their pods, or 500g tinned
2 bay leaves
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion
1 celery stalk
200g tinned plum tomatoes
200g fresh egg pasta, cut into small, misshapen squares or 220g dried small pasta, or broken tagliatelle
Salt and black pepper


If you are using dried beans, soak them in plenty of cold water for 12 hours or overnight. Drain the soaked beans (or pod the fresh ones, or drain and rinse the tinned ones) and put them in a large pan. Cover them with about 1.5 litres of water, add the bay leaves, bring to the boil and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the beans are getting tender but are still just a little firm. The exact time will depend on the age of the beans; I start tasting after 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely dice the onion and chop the celery finely. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan, add the onion and celery and cook gently over a low heat until soft and fragrant. If you have one, pass the tomatoes through a food mill before adding them to the pan. If you don’t have a food mill, add the tomatoes as they are, but crush them with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir and allow the tomatoes to bubble for about 5 minutes, before using a slotted spoon to lift the beans into the pan. Stir, then add 1 litre of the bean-cooking liquid you have just lifted the beans from, making it up with hot water if necessary.

Let the soup bubble away gently for about 10 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Remove a cup of beans and broth from the pan, process it until smooth with a stick blender or pass it through the food mill and return it to the pan. Season generously with salt.

Bring the soup to the boil and add the pasta. Stirring fairly attentively, simmer until the pasta is tender. For small dried pasta, this will probably be about 8 minutes, for fresh pasta 3-5 minutes. Keep a small pan of water boiling next to the soup, adding some if it seems too thick. Taste to check the seasoning and serve with a little extra-virgin olive oil poured on top.

Posted 1st February 2018

In Recipes


Interview: Killian Fox
Photographs: Sophie Davidson