This literally means “pasta and beans” in Italian and like many traditional Italian dishes, this soup is based on a soffritto base. Soffrigere is to fry lightly in Italian, and a soffritto is therefore a ‘lightly fried’ chopped mixture of carrot, onion and celery, often with the addition of herbs. The base really adds to the flavour of any dish.</font
450g (1 pound) dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight in cold water
1 tablespoon Taste #5 Umami Bomb
1 bay leaf
6 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
6-8 rashers of streaky bacon (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g (7oz) short tubular pasta or 140g (5oz) cut fresh pasta for a more delicate finish
extra virgin olive oil
FOR THE SOFFRITTO BASE
2 onions, quartered
2 garlic cloves
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped, plus a handful of chopped celery leaves, to serve
3 tablespoons olive oil
generous handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- First make the soffritto base: in a food processor, pulse the onion, garlic, carrot and celery into fine pieces. Heat the olive oil in a large pan heavy-based pan and fry the vegetables with the parsley until the onions become glassy but not coloured.
- Drain the beans and add them to the soffritto with the Umami Bomb, bay leaf and rosemary. Fry together for a moment, stirring well. Put in a large pan and add water to cover by 5cm (2 inches). Add half the chopped tomatoes and the bacon, if using it, and cook gently for 3-4 hours until the beans are soft, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and adding more boiling water if needed.
- When the beans are cooked, remove a third and set aside. Remove the bacon and discard. Using a mouli sieve or hand blender (the former will give a better result), blend the remaining mixture in the pot until smooth
- Return the whole beans to the pot. Adjust the seasoning and bring back to the boil. Add the pasta and cook until it is al dente. Turn off the heat and allow the soup to stand for 10 minutes.
- Serve each bowlful with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of chopped flat-leaf parsley and celery leaves, a spoonful of the remaining chopped tomato and some grated Parmesan.