Pasta and bean soup

Pasta and bean soup

Pasta e fasuli

Laura Edwards

Fasuli is the Neapolitan argot for fagioli or beans, and this pasta and bean soup almost doesn’t need an introduction because it is so well-known worldwide in restaurants, cafés and trattorie. It is a peasant dish that reigns supreme, and there are as many versions as there are regions in Italy, possibly even more! But they basically use the same method, cooking beans and pasta together with some flavouring, perhaps meaty, perhaps herby. This one is for vegetarians, with no meat, but, if you were tempted, you could fry 50g of Parma ham cubes in a little oil until crisp, and serve them on top…


Quantity Ingredient
300g fresh podded borlotti beans, soaked overnight in water and then drained
or 200g dried borlotti, soaked overnight in water and then drained
extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
1 sprig red chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
150g mixed pasta, small shapes preferably
freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig fresh rosemary
see method for ingredients


  1. If using dried borlotti, soak the beans overnight, then drain. Cover the fresh beans or the drained dried beans with 2 litres of water and bring to the boil. Cook at a simmer until soft, which will be about an hour for the fresh beans, double that for the dried beans.
  2. Heat 5 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion gently for 10 minutes, until soft. Add the basil, rosemary, chilli and tomato paste, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the soft beans and their water (or the tinned beans and the stock), as well as the pasta, then cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the pasta is cooked. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top.
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