Borlotti beans and pasta soup

Borlotti beans and pasta soup

Pasta e fasoi

Helen Cathcart

This is the Venetian way of making this warming Italian classic. The herby oil is swirled into the soup before serving, or try pouring it over hot focaccia or steak. This version came from the chef Davide at Vini da Gigio where he uses beans from Lamon in the Dolomites, to the north-west of Venice.


Quantity Ingredient
500g dried borlotti beans
100ml extra virgin olive oil, plus 5 tablespoons for the herb oil
1 quantity Soffrito
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
1.5 litres Vegetable stock, plus extra if needed
or 1.5 litres Rita's chicken stock, plus extra if needed
1 parmesan rind, (optional)
1 ham bone, (optional)
small handful thyme sprigs
5 sage leaves
2 sprigs rosemary
400g small pasta shapes
or 400g spaghetti, broken


  1. Put the beans into a large bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak overnight at room temperature. Drain and set aside. Heat the 100 ml of oil over a medium heat in a large heavy-based saucepan and fry the soffritto with the bay leaf and seasoning gently for 10–15 minutes until the vegetables start to soften and become translucent.
  2. Add the stock and the beans to the pan and bring to the boil, stir through. Reduce the heat to a simmer so that the soup bubbles gently. Add the Parmesan rind and ham bone, if using. Skim off any foam and discard. Allow the soup to cook, stirring every now and again, for around 2 hours or until the beans are soft, adding more stock or hot water if necessary.
  3. Remove from the heat and purée around three quarters of the soup, using a hand-held blender in the saucepan. It can all be puréed but I prefer to feel the texture of a few whole beans in contrast to the silky smooth soup.
  4. Add the pasta to the soup, put the pan back on a medium heat and cook until the pasta is al dente. Taste and season as necessary. You may need to add a little more stock or hot water to maintain a soup consistency as the pasta will absorb the liquid.
  5. Meanwhile make the herb oil. Heat the 5 tablespoons of oil in a small saucepan and add the thyme, sage and rosemary. After 3–4 minutes when the herbs are infused (don’t let them burn) pour most the oil through a small sieve into the soup and stir.
  6. When the pasta is al dente, pour into warm bowls and serve with a swirl of the remaining herb oil and pepper.
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