Monday, August 30, 2010

Pasta e Fagioli with fresh Cranberry Beans

I was shopping at one of my favorite farm stands the other day when I found some fresh Cranberry beans or Borlotti beans as they are known in Italian. I just knew I wanted them, hadn't settled on what I was going to do with them.

I was sifting through them looking for some nice ones when this older Italian gentleman sorting green beans next to me gives me the eye. He tells me he is going to make minestrone, with the hand up and eyebrow at the same time. After rattling off recipes and hearing about his grandchildren, pasta e fagioli it is; seriously that was the extent of my excitement for the day!

Cranberry beans they are so cool to look at when fresh, too bad they turn brownish/gray when cooked. You are going to want to shell them and boil them in a little salted water for about 20-25 minutes and drain them, before adding them to your soup.

They are easy to shell, run your fingernail along the spine and they will open right up. You just want the inside beans not the pod.

1-2 tbsp. olive oil
4 ounces chopped pancetta
1 box low-sodium chicken stock
5-6 black Russian heirloom tomatoes, skinned and crushed (use whatever variety you can find)
2 zucchini, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. fresh cranberry beans (if you can't find these (1) can rinsed cannellini beans will work great)
1 cup cooked pasta
Couple of sprigs of fresh Thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large stockpot on medium, add olive oil. Add pancetta and cook for a couple of minutes until some of the fat is rendered. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic, cook for 5-7 minutes till softened. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add zucchini, beans, tomatoes, pasta, thyme (leaves only, not stems), salt and pepper.

Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes longer. I like my veggies still crisp, if you want yours a little softer, just leave it on for another 5-10 minutes.

Tip for the tomatoes: Cut an X on the bottoms and dip in boiling water for a minute or two till the skin is loosened, put in ice water to cool, then peel.

You can grate some fresh Parmesan over the top before serving, but I like to make some Parmesan crostini. Slice a sourdough baguette on the diagonal, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with grated Parmesan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes till crisp.

Serves 6.




  1. This looks like something I would just love! And thanks for the tip about the X on the tomatoes!

  2. Soo pretty! Never heard of these beans before. Will have to keep a look out!

  3. This looks delicious. I just bought cranberry beans for the first time at my local farmers market. I was disappointed in the color they turn after cooking, but they're very good. I also found black-eyed beans in purple hulls. I'm setting up for a bean and tomato salad this week!

  4. I don't think i've ever seen or tasted the cranberry beans before. The soup looks healthy and delicious!

  5. Those cranberry beans look incredible. I've never seen them before. Your soup looks like it is taking advantage of the fantastic produce that's available right now which is right up my ally!

  6. Glorious beans! And, your soup looks fantastic, Gina. I was thinking about soup on my drive to the south office (about an hour) this morning and thought about my mom's minnestrone. But, it takes TONS of chopping and most of a day to make. So, this will be a great alternative. Happy week :-) Kate (kateiscooking)

  7. I have never seen cranberry beans but they sure are beautiful and your soup looks amazing. I am so glad soup season is finally here.

  8. What beautiful beans and a beautiful soup! I love dried cranberry beans (which can be hard to find), but I've never tried them fresh.

  9. One of my favorite soups! I've not used cranberry beans, but they look great. Nicely done!

  10. I've never seen cranberry beans, but will look for them. Hope that it's not too late. It's not soup weather in Chicago yet, more 90's this week.

  11. Those beans look amazing and they are such a beautiful color! I have always wanted to make this soup - will have to try yours.

  12. I have never seen or had cranberry beans! They look so pretty!

  13. I sure have never heard or seen cranberry beans before too. I bet you can only get it at farmer's market ? or maybe specialty store? thanks for sharing. Learning something new everyday!

  14. Those beans look so awesome - and beautiful, i'm going to have to look for these! I love good soups like this =)

  15. Mgoh, I'm not sure where you are located, but I've seen these beans dried in many local markets. Just soak overnight prior to boiling. Worth looking for. Thanks everyone for your comments, hope you give it a try.

  16. I love that:
    a. you can find them fresh in the markets (cannot in MN)
    b. that there was an Italian gentleman rattling off a recipe!
    Perfect!(And scrumptious)