I love soup. I love pasta. I get the best of both worlds in this dish.
I think this is one of the most versatile dishes I know. It can be vegetarian but often, I add pancetta with the sofrito, the mixture of onions and celery (if I do so, I sautée it in a bit of oil before adding the broth). I usually serve it as a soup, but when I am really hungry, it is not difficult to add more pasta and make it more consistent. If I have good, ripe tomatoes around, I add them too and make it more tomato-y. If I want it spicy that day, I add a drizzle of chili oil at the end. Change the parmesan for pecorino and you have another dish.
If you can find fresh cranberry beans, it is great, but if you can’t, don’t sweat it. Use canned romano beans instead. Any type of pasta will do: you can even use spaghetti, cut into 1 inch lengths. I like Cavatelli because this pasta still has a bite even the next day.
Carrots are not used in this dish as their flavor competes with the taste of the beans.
1 onion, finely diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
450 g fresh cranberry beans, shelled
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup Cavatelli or other short pasta
1/3 cup olive oil
1 sprig rosemary, leaves only, whole
3 sprigs thyme
5 sage leaves, whole
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
salt and pepper
1. In a stockpot, add the onion, celery, beans, stock and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the beans are tender, about 25 minutes.
2. Remove half the beans from the pot along with some of the broth, transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Return the purée to the stockpot.
3. Add the tomato paste and the pasta and cook, uncovered, until the pasta is tender.
4. While the pasta is cooking, in another pot, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot but not boiling, add the garlic, thyme, rosemary and sage and swirl for a minute, no longer.
5. Add the hot oil to the soup, straining and discarding the solids. Mix well. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
6. Serve in individual bowls, drizzle more extra-virgin olive oil, top with parmesan and enjoy!