This is without doubt an incredibly delicious dish, technically a soup, but it is hearty enough for a winters evening.
In actual fact during the winter, and almost most of the English summer we probably have this dish a couple of times a month, it is very easy to prepare, keeps well for a few days (if you don't eat it all first sitting), and is incredibly cheap to make. Which during these harsh economic times, is a real bonus.
For the purists reading this I would refer to this as a Neapolitan (from Naples) dish, but variations of this are enjoyed throughout Italy, and Borlotti beans (Lamon in particular) are the most classic to use if you are looking for real authenticity.
As mentioend there are lots of versions, but this is my all-time favourite and in my opinion the tastiest.
The *'s at various points below indicate footnotes which can be found at the bottom of this blog.
1 Clove of Garlic crushed,
1 Carrot finely diced,
1 Celery Stick finely diced,
1 Onion finely sliced (not diced)
Few Chilli flakes
Salt an Pepper
Virgin Olive oil
300g of cooked Cannelini Beans (mash half)*
1.5 Pints of Chicken stock (freshly made or use 1/2 a cube)**
Quarter tin of chopped tomatoes, 70-80g approx
300g of Tubbetini pasta, or Conchiglie will do.
2/3 Fresh basil leaves
-In a medium size deep sided pan, fry the Garlic, Celery and Carrot, for about five minutes. Use a gentle heat. Dont burn or brown, we are aiming to soften, rather than colour.***
-Next add the tomato, chilli flakes, and the stock, bring to the boil.
-Season to taste and Simmer gently for fifteen minutes.
-Add the basil leaves,
-Add the Cannelini beans, dont forget to mash half first and at this stage.
-Add the pasta.
-Stir thoroughly and cover.
-Continue to simmer very gently. Stir occasionally to prevent it sticking. You may at this stage also need to adjust the liquidity by adding some water to loosen, just add enough to get it to the "wetness" you want. Think very very very thick soup, and you will be spot-on.
-After about ten minutes check the pasta, and keep checking until its cooked.
-Serve generously into bowls,
-Add sliced onion over the top,
-Drizzle with some good Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Eat it while its hot, and Enjoy!!
By the way, this is also excellent reheated the next day, and is freezable if you want to save some for later.
*You can use Borlotti beans instead, or a mix of the two. If using dried soak overnight, and cook ahead of this recipe. Tinned is easier, but drain and wash before using. Fresh if you can get them, would be the ideal ingredient for this recipe. (seeds of italy do sell seeds for Borlotti).
**You can use vegetable stock if you wish, and this will be suitable to serve to Vegetarians/Vegans.
***If your a carnivore you can add some Pancetta and fry it at this stage, it will add a great deal of extra taste. Personally I prefer it this way. Don't use Bacon.