I first tasted this dish in Rome when I was a teenager. I met a young local who took me to the Rome polo club and I tried pasta fagioli. He was sure to tell me it was the perfect lunch dish, and made sure to empathize that many non-educated foreigners eat it at night – wrongly as it’s just too heavy.
Basically this is beans and pasta, cooked separately and combined at the last minutes to get the right cooking texture.
The cooking of the beans is simple and it works very well if you understand that beans are toxic:a phyto-haemag-glutinin, lectins are carbohydrates binding proteins are that can be deactivated by boiling beans and 20/30 minutes at 100 °C to degrade the toxin.
Italian Cannellini beans are suitable for a soup and before cooking, I add to my tomato stock, which is made by preparing a “mirepoix sofritto” of onions, carrots, and garlic with some de-glazing.
I later add a spring of rosemary and a few ends, those rock-hard rinds that most people throw away. Parmigiano-Reggiano is the magical flavor bombs not to be missed giving the final zap to the orbitofrontal cortex.
I add the rinds to the dish, and I go slowly as they need a good long while to soften up and release their flavor goodness.
This rind doesn’t make the soup base cheesy, it adds that elusive umami character. I think it would be redundant to use the rind if you are already using bacon, or the like in your soup, but for vegetable-based dishes, it works very well.
500gr dry beans or use Zolfino Beans
2 garlic cloves
1 celery stick
1 bay leaf
1 chili (optional)
1 fresh rosemary
1 500gr Organic canned tomatoes San Marzano
2 parmesan rinds
1 red or white wine for deglazing
More parmesan to grate when serving