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Classic Pasta e Fagioli


We are calling this a classic version of Pasta e Fagioli but there’s a good chance your Italian grandmother wouldn’t agree. She would add a little more of this and a little less of that. But this version, from Baia Pasta’s Dario Barbone, re-ignited my love for this dish. With good beans, good pasta and good vegetables, the rich, clear broth makes it unique. I don’t want to oversell this but it’s just plain delicious and I haven’t stopped making it.

  • 3 cups cooked Rancho Gordo Cranberry or Borlotti beans, or white beans such as Royal Corona or Marcella
  • 4 cups bean broth from the cooked beans (If you have less than four cups, make up the difference with broth)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 ounces pancetta, cubed or roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, minced or sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ​½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 8 ounces good-quality pasta (we like shells or tubular shapes)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish (optional)
  • Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving
Serves 4 to 6
  1. As you prepare the beans, make sure you have plenty of liquid on hand when they are done as this will be the basis for your sauce.
  2. While the beans are cooking, prepare the sofrito. In a medium-sized pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. If using pancetta: Slowly fry the pancetta until fragrant and chewy. Once cooked, remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and let rest on a paper towel. If needed, add more olive oil so there is enough fat to fry the aromatic vegetables. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft and the onion is turning golden colored. Add the tomato paste and pepper flakes (if using) and cook for a few minutes until the paste is heated through and the tomato flavor is intensified.
  3. Add the bean broth and rosemary sprig and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking on a gentle simmer for 15 minutes or so. The liquid should start to reduce.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large stockpot in salted water according to package directions. Drain.
  5. Add the drained pasta, beans, and reserved pancetta (if using) to the sofrito mixture, mix well, and gently cook for a few minutes to marry the various flavors. Remove the rosemary sprig.
  6. Serve immediately with a splash of peppery extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of parsley, if desired. Pass around a bowl of grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese for the guests to help themselves.


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