Borlotti bean & pasta soup

Borlotti bean & pasta soup

Zuppa di fagioli

The Amalfi Coast
Helen Cathcart

This was the most amazing dish I sampled on my travels in Amalfi! For such a so-called simple dish the family of cooks at Cumpa’ Cosimo have really perfected this recipe, so much so that they wouldn’t actually give it to me, so here is our equally delicious version made by Antonio Sanzone, the Head Chef at Caffè Caldesi. He told me that you should stir beans with a wooden spoon, not a metal one as it can affect the flavour of the beans. The herby soffrito and spicy herb oil are typical of the contadina or peasant style of cooking. While the soup rests off the heat, make the oil to finish it using seasonal herbs and then stir it in to give it the wow factor.


Quantity Ingredient
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 celery stalks, cut into 5 mm pieces
1 red or white onion, cut into 5 mm pieces
2 carrots, cut into 5 mm dice
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed in its skin
1 palm-sized piece see method for ingredients
or 2 slices streaky un-smoked bacon
or 1 italian sausage
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper
300g see method for ingredients, soaked in water overnight, then drained
1 mazzetto aromatico, (small bunch of herbs tied with string) of parsley, rosemary, marjoram and thyme
2 ripe tomatoes, skinned and quartered
1.2 litres hot vegetable or chicken stock
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
300g dried pasta, such as penne, some broken lengths or fresh pasta, such as maltagliati or cavatelli

Spicy herb oil

Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
a few sprigs rosemary
a few stalks marjoram
a few sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley
1 red chilli
2 garlic cloves, crushed


  1. Start by making the soup. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the diced vegetables until so‰ft with the garlic, prosciutto, bay leaf and seasoning. Add the drained borlotti beans and mazzetto and stir through. Add the hot stock and cook, covered, over a medium heat for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are just so‰ft. At this point add the bicarbonate of soda and cook for 10 minutes more.
  2. Remove the soup from the heat and leave it to rest. Make the spicy herb oil by putting all the ingredients into a pan and cooking over a low heat until the smell of the herbs comes through. Stir the oil into the soup, remove the mazzetto and return the soup to the heat. Add the pasta, stir through and cook until the pasta is al dente. If the pasta absorbs too much liquid add a little hot water. Serve in warmed bowls.
The AmalfiCoast
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