Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Hearty Bean soup

There are so many delicious pasta bean soups, and I am sure you have one that you make time and time again. I tend to add vegetable bouillon to most of my soups, but this is one that did not require it, as the flavours of the vegetables just come through.
I know it looks like bits of rice floating at the top, but it's actually orzo. Orzo is Italian and to my knowledge means "barley" from which it was once originally made. These days it is actually made from hard wheat semolina. However to people like myself, orzo often means rice-shaped pasta and is often used in dishes such as casseroles or substantial and comforting soups, such as this one.
Soups are not the easiest to photograph, so here is a 'close up'.

Pasta e fagioli: a hearty bean soup
Serves 6 -8
¼ cup olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 small carrots, diced
2 sticks of celery, sliced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup chopped, canned tomato
1 x 400g canned borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup orzo pasta or other small pasta
Minced parsley
Warm the oil in a wide pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, potato and garlic and cook over medium heat., stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes, then add the beans and 8 cups of water. Simmer, covered over a low heat for about an hour. Remove 2 cups of the beans and vegetables, puree them and add them back to the soup. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta separately until done, drain then add it to the soup. Serve with minced parsley and extra optional drizzle of olive oil. Adapted from Deborah Madisons Vegetable Soups.

If you leave this soup overnight with the pasta in it, the pasta will thicken up more.


  1. I'm a big fan of bean soups of all types. If I cook the beans from scratch, I like to use kombu or fresh sage, and perhaps some garlic as well, during the bean cooking phase before the vegetables are added, and sometimes I'll add some additional fresh herbs at the end to brighten things up.

  2. Hi Kate.
    Sounds like a great idea. I'll keep that in mind the next time I cook my beans from scratch, which I do 'do' when I have more time.
    You can't beat the flavour of fresh herbs.

  3. I've just been given an award for my blog and am now passing it on to you as one of my favourite blogs. To collect the award go to my blog - http://choclogblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/blog-award.html

    No obligation - I won't be offended.

  4. This bean soup looks oh so delicious and the close up photo is absolutely beautiful! I've never cooked orzo before but it does sound really good, I'll have to give it a go pretty soon.

    p.s. Thanks for leaving me the link to your veggie pie post:)

  5. This looks hearty and so delicious! Perfect for a cold winter day (like we're having today in New York!).

  6. Lovely soup, pasta e fagioli is one of my favourites!

    I have to tell you something about orzo though. Orzo means barley, but it is also the name often given to a small type of pasta (the one you used), which is also called 'risoni' or 'sementine'. This pasta was not originally made from barley. But barley can be used to make these kind of soups in many parts of Italy, as rice is used in many other parts (here the name risoni - big rice grains). I suppose that the regions who didn't grow barley or rice used small pasta for their soups. Each city seems to use a different type of pasta for pasta e fagioli, I go for maltagliati (when I make my own pasta) or ditalini (when I use dried pasta).

    Finally orzo is what we call our barley coffee (just to make this more confusing for you ;-)) my children drink orzo for breakfast, and I drink it in the evening, because is caffeine free.

  7. This looks delicious. I love that you used orzo.

  8. That looks really good and I have all the ingredients in except the beans. I do have kidney beans though, maybe I could add them instead. I was planning on making soup tomorrow.

  9. Oh my goodness! It made my mouth water! It looks super yummy. I love making soups!

  10. This reminds me how much I used to like barley, legumes and vege soups, must buy myself a packet of barley and reintroduce the family to this very fulling staple.

  11. That looks so delicious and comforting... I'm adding it to my rotation, although I might have to settle for a different kind of bean :(

    P.S. Thanks for your sweet comment earlier!

  12. A lovely & healthy bean soup this is!!

    There is nothing better then home made soup in wintertime!

  13. Thank you so so much for you nomination Choclette. I am honoured and so chuffed to be one of your favourite reads :D

    Thanks Oraphan.

    Alessandra - thank you so much for sharing the information on orzo which I really appreciate as you have taught me something new about food. I am sure some of my readers will too. Its the first time I've used orzo in soup, in the past it was ditalini.

    I have heard of barley coffee, but have never seen it before. I am intrigued by it, should i ever see it I will sure try it. Have you ever tried dandelion coffee? It's caffeine free too.

    Thank you Michele.

    Hi Jacqueline.
    Of course kidney beans will work, the flavour will be a bit different.

    Thanks Jenn. I Hope your keeping well.

    Kella. I have some barley in my storecupboard too. With all this snow, it'll soon be coming out of the packet.

    Welcome Rebeca.
    I'm sure any kind of bean would work in this soup. I also added some chickpeas.

    Thank you Sophie.
    You are so right, home-made soup at winter time shoud be welcomed with open arms.

  14. Nancy,
    Welcome and Thank you so much for your comment. I don't think the snow here is going anywhere in a hurry :D

  15. I bet thats a lovely soup to come home to after a cold afternoon on the allotment.

  16. James, It would be but I haven't been over to the allotment since Christmas eve, with the freezing cold weather and snow.


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