This is one of the classic dishes from the realm of cucina povera – the food of the poor. But it is comfort food that touches your soul no matter who you are – a thick soup of pasta and cannellini beans with lovely hints of prosciutto – in this recipe from legendary Italian chef Armando Percuoco.
50 g dried cannellini beans, or 200 g canned, drained and rinsed
80 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 celery stalk, chopped
a few pieces of prosciutto rind
1 tomato, chopped
salt and pepper
50 g dried tubetti pasta
45 g parmesan, grated
1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 6 hours
Soak the beans for about 6 hours in a saucepan of water. Drain and replace the water, bring the beans to the boil and simmer until they are soft (about 45 minutes). Drain the beans, keeping the cooking water.
Heat half the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the garlic cloves, celery and prosciutto rind for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato, beans and 250 ml of the bean cooking water. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and pick out the garlic cloves and prosciutto rind. Season to taste.
Cook the tubetti in salted boiling water until a little under al dente. Drain and add to the soup.
Return the soup to a simmer, add the remaining oil and cook for another 5 minutes. If the soup seems too thick, add more bean water.
Serve sprinkled with parmesan and parsley and drizzled with more oil.