After receiving 3 bags of the famous Rancho Gordo beans from Dave for Valentine’s, I had to search out a recipe that was worthy of one of the bags.
I found this recipe poking around Gourmet and I was immediately sold. “The flavor of this pasta fagioli is so haunting and the texture so voluptuous that you’ll wonder how such modest ingredients could conspire to create something so indulgent.” How can you not give this description a try?
The hardest part of this recipe is remembering to soak the beans. I decided to follow the Rancho Gordo Manner. I let the beans soak for 6 hours or so until they were nice and pruney.
Then I sauteed up a mirepoix and added the beans with a Parm rind (don’t skip this) and cooked them for maybe an hour and half. I gave the beans a taste at like 45 mins and I could already taste the difference of the quality Rancho Gordos rather than the ordinary beans you get at the store. They just tasted cleaner and purer if that makes sense.
After a quick blast with the immersion blender (truthfully, it wasn’t charged up good and I had the use the normal blender which worked, but was a little messy-next time the immersion blender will be fully charged), the velvety texture of the soup was ready. The flavor really is haunting. The richness of the parm rind melds with the texture of the beans and the mirepoix that have had time to caramelize. Wonderful.
You top the bean soup with with a healthy scoop of ditalini pasta, which is a shape that I am going to be adding to more soups because it really is just fun. I enjoyed my soup with a nice frosty Fat Tire. The best part about the soup though, it freezes up nicely so all I have to do for a quick meal is make some pasta fresh with the quickly thawed soup.
Venetian Bean Soup
Recipe from Gourmet
1 lb dried borlotti (cranberry) beans (2 2/3 cups), picked over and rinsed [get some Rancho Gordos...seriously...I can't wait to order]
10 cups water [just cover the beans in a bowl with like an inch or so to spare]
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
2 medium onions, chopped
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley [I left this out since I didn't have any]
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 roughly 3- by 2-inch piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (optional) [but why would you leave out this goodness?]
3/4 lb dried ditalini or other small tubular pasta
Soak beans for 6 hours or so.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onions with 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Add carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, rosemary, and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
Add beans with soaking liquid and Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (if using) and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until beans are very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours (depending on age of beans), adding more water if necessary to keep beans covered and stirring more frequently toward end of cooking. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup oil and remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt. Cool, uncovered, 20 minutes.
Discard rind and coarsely purée soup in batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids), transferring as puréed to a large bowl.
Return soup to pot and reheat over moderately low heat, stirring frequently and thinning soup as desired with additional water. Season with salt and pepper.
While soup is reheating, cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain in a colander and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and pepper to taste.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with spoonfuls of pasta, then drizzle with oil.
Freeze the excess without the pasta. Make the pasta fresh when eating the leftover.