Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 2 hour 10 min
Yield: Serves 4 Vegetarian
A very simple dish, soupy enough to be served in bowls rather than on plates.
1 cup dried white beans, such as cannellini or Great Northern, soaked overnight, or use the *quick-soak method, or 14 oz can, washed and drained
4 TBSP olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 celery rib, coarsely chopped
1 - 2 garlic cloves to taste, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped ripe plum tomatoes or canned whole plum tomatoes, drained
1 fresh rosemary sprig, finely chopped
about 3 1/2 cups boiling water
1/3 package (lb) fusilli, small pasta shells, small ziti, or fettuccine or tagliatelle broken into roughly 2-inch lengths
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
freshly grated Parmigiano cheese for garnish
Large, heavy saucepan with cover. Food processor (to puree some of the beans, makes thicker soup).
DRAIN the beans and set aside.
HEAT the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat and gently sauté the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic until the vegetables are soft but not brown, about 10 minutes.
ADD the beans to the vegetables along with the tomatoes, rosemary, and about 3 cups boiling water.
BRING back to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, until the beans are tender - 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the age and size of the beans.
ADD more boiling water from time to time as necessary: the beans should always be covered with simmering liquid.
WHEN the beans are very tender, transfer about 2 cups beans and their liquid to a food processor and process to a thick puree. Or put them through the medium disk of a food mill.
STIR the puree back into the beans.
ADD the pasta and another cup of boiling water to the beans in the pot. Cook, stirring constantly, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Taste and add salt and lots of black pepper.
SERVE in a warm soup tureen or in individual warm bowls, garnished with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of parsley, and some Parmigiano.
PASS more cheese and olive oil with the soup.
MOST beans and legumes should be soaked before cooking - lentils are a notable exception. To soak them, simply place them in a bowl with twice their quantity of fresh cool water. Set aside overnight. In the morning, discard the soaking water and start the cooking process with fresh water.
*Quick-soak method: Set the beans in a saucepan with twice their quantity of fresh cool water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and boil rapidly, covered, for 1 to 2 minutes. Then remove from the heat and set aside, still covered, for an hour or more. Drain the beans and use fresh water for cooking.