The Bean Eater – Zuppa di Fagioli
To serve 4 to 6
1 cup dry white beans – marrow, Great
Northern, navy or white kidney (cannelini beans)
2 to 2 1/2 quarts water
1 1/2 pound cooked smoked ham, cut in
1 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound lean salt pork in 1 piece
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup of l-inch pieces of spaghetti (break it by hand)
or, substitute your favorite pasta
Freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese
In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan, bring the beans and 2 quarts of water to a
boil over high heat and boil them for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and
let the beans soak for 1 hour. Then drain the beans, saving the water. Add
enough fresh cold water to make 2 quarts. Chop together the ham, onions,
celery and garlic into very small pieces. This mixture is called a batutto.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot, stir in the batutto and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until it is lightly colored. Add
the beans, water and salt pork, and season with salt and a few grindings of pepper.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer partially covered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or
until the beans are tender.
Discard the salt pork and skim the fat off the soup.
With a slotted spoon, remove about half the beans from the soup and
puree them through a sieve or food mill, then return them to the soup.
Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, for a minute or two. Add the
spaghetti and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is tender. Taste for
seasoning, ladle into a large tureen or soup bowls and sprinkle with grated cheese.