Pork, pasta and bean soup

Pork, pasta and bean soup

Pašta fažol

By
From
Dalmatia
Serves
4

Pašta fažol is by far Croatia’s most popular dish. Continental Croatians call this hearty dish ‘grah’, but don’t include pasta. However, in Dalmatia, the dish is a more Mediterranean version. This rich soup is a soul-warmer and you can serve it as an appetiser or as the main meal with fresh, crusty bread and a good Dalmatian wine. The secret ingredient to making this delicious meal is the pancetta fat and garlic paste. It’s crucial to soak the dried beans overnight then blanch them in water to remove the toxins – your stomach will thank you!

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
500g beans (cannellini or borlotti)
4 bay leaves
200g smoked pork shanks or ribs
2 litres water or beef stock
200g brown onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
150g smoked flat pancetta with lots of white fat
8 garlic cloves
100g pasta, penne or small tubetti
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Method

  1. Soak the beans overnight. The following day, drain them and put them in a large saucepan with the bay leaves. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Drain the water from the pan. Don’t season the beans yet.
  2. In another large saucepan, put the pork shanks, water or stock, vegetables, tomato paste and the red meat trimmed from the pancetta. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 1 hour until the vegetables are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, finely chop the white fat part of the pancetta and blend it in a food processor with the garlic to make a smooth paste.
  4. After the soup has been cooking for 1 hour, remove the pancetta meat and pork bones and add the blanched beans and garlic and fat paste. Simmer for another 30 minutes until the beans are soft and starting to break up.
  5. If you want to thicken the soup, scoop out a couple of cups of the soup (including vegetables and meat), blend in a food processor, then return this to the pan before adding the pasta.
  6. Add the pasta and cook for another 5 minutes, adding more water or stock if necessary. Garnish with parsley and serve.
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