Monday, 25 June 2012


I'm not Italian, but not for the want of trying. I love Italy and, of course, its food. I have an Italian sister-in-law. (Does that make me sort-of Italian?) We joke that, out of the two of us, I'm the one who makes all the fresh pasta. She received a pasta machine as a wedding gift 17 years ago and it's still in the box. I make pizza from scratch. I'm likely to be spotted with a glass of Chianti in-hand when eating said pizza. I did an Italian language class (years ago). I drive an Alfa Romeo. I shop at a very traditional Italian deli and say things like grazie, prego and ciao. I make minestrone on a cold winters day and feed it to my little bambini. That's not obsession, that's amore.

Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
100ml white wine
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
2 x 400g tins borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
200g small pasta (I used Stellette)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
parsley, chopped for finishing
extra virgin olive oil, for finishing
parmesan cheese, finely grated for finishing

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery and sweat the vegetables over a low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and bay leaves and continue to cook on low heat for about 15 minutes.

Add the white wine and cook until the wine has evaporated.

Add about 1 litre of water and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and and heat them through. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove a mug full of beans and some of the liquid and blitz in a blender until smooth. This will give your soup extra body. Return the puréed beans back to the soup pot.

Add the pasta and cook for about 10 minutes. Add more water if it gets too thick.

Pour the soup into generous bowls. Sprinkle it with some chopped parsley and give it a loving swirl of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with some finely grated parmesan cheese at the table and lots of crusty bread.

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