Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Soup of Cannellini Beans with Pasta and Rosemary

It's time for a hearty, filling soup recipe. Gray skies and dreary drizzle make me want to grab a warm bowl of soup with plenty of textures and a homey, comforting taste - and this one is just the recipe for it. You get the soft slippery texture of the pasta, and the creamy bite of the cannelini beans, and you feel virtuous as you slurp down spoonfuls of veg in the form of tomatoes, cabbage, carrots and celery and onion. The rosemary makes this an autumnal winner of a soup, and the pancetta is just that bit of meaty luxury that you keep dipping your spoon in for.

Soup of Cannellini Beans with Pasta and Rosemary
Adapted from The Amateur Gourmet, who adapted it from Chez Panisse Cooking



140g pancetta, diced
2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
4 medium carrots, finely diced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
3 3-inch sprigs rosemary
500g dried cannellini beans, covered with cold water and soaked for 8 to 12 hours
3 cups Savoy cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
8 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes
250g macaroni elbows
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
More olive oil for drizzling


Add the pancetta to a large saucepot over low-medium heat to let some of the fat render out. Then add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and rosemary and soften over low heat, without browning, for 8 to 10 minutes. 

Drain the beans, add them and the cabbage, pour in the water and tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and cover the pot. Taste the liquid after 30 minutes. It should be slightly salty from the pancetta, but add additional salt to taste. 

Cook slowly for about 1 hour and 10 minutes more or until the beans have softened throughout.

When the beans are cooked (and you can only know by tasting: they should taste creamy), transfer 2 cups of the broth and beans to a blender and puree them thoroughly. Return the puree to the pot. 

Check to see if you think the soup is too thick for adding pasta - I added another 2 cups of water. Stir in the pasta; correct the soup to your taste with salt and pepper, and cook until pasta is al dente. 

Remove the rosemary sprigs and dish it up into warm bowls. Sprinkle the Parmesan and about a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil over each portion at the table if you'd like.

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