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Bologna bean soup with fresh pasta

Bologna bean soup with fresh pasta

When temperature goes down, it’s pot and soup time.

Today I’m waiting for you with a hot, comforting bowl of beans soup.
This is one regional version of the most popular Pasta and Fagioli.

From north to south, Italy has a rich tradition of soups, all of which are good and worth trying. In Romagna, as in Bologna, the bean soup with maltagliati pasta (minestra di fagioli) is considered a typical local recipe.

That is my home version of bean soup.

Maltagliati, Borlotti and Chestnut Minestra

At home as in the old osteria

Bean soup with pasta is largely diffused everywhere in Italy with some differences from area to area. This recipe belongs to the cucina povera (peasant food) tradition of Italian cooking, which is based on simple, hardy ingredients which were cheap, widely available, and easy to prepare.

It is a traditional dish that, once, you could enjoy at home and in the osteria where, almost always, there was a cook at the stove offering typical homemade eats.

During the cold season, the old inns in Romagna and Bologna used to offer this simple and flavorful dish.

It was seasonal eating and cheap. It was kept warm in the covered pan that remained mumbling softly on the old stoves. Taverns often consisted of one large room, and the bean soup enveloped and engulfed the cold and hungry patrons.

Bologna bean soup with fresh pasta

Bean soup with maltagliati pasta

People used to cook the soup in clay pots, which I still use thanks to the care of those who used them before me and handed them down generation after generation.

It is still today a low-cost and tasty dish. Very easy to prepare.
My grandmother Sara also used to add some dried chestnuts (but roasted ones are fine too).

You can make it even without chestnuts and no terracotta pot.

I remember Grandma sifting the leftover soup through a sieve, separating the beans and pasta from the liquid part. To the bean broth, she added water to dilute it and make it less thick. In that broth, he would then cook passatelli. A forgotten poor dish we should rediscover.

Buona cucina, Monica

A short note about maltagliati pasta

At home, grandma usually used to add maltagliati to the bean soup.
Maltagliati is a fresh pasta that comes from leftover pasta sheets.
To make it, you cut the leftover pieces of the sfoglia irregularly. Preserve them in a glass jar. You can use any size of short pasta.

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Minestra, zuppa and vellutata are all soup recipes but with some significant differences.

In Italy, what we call soup has many different names. 

The minestra is a soup that, in addition to vegetables, always calls for pasta or rice. On the contrary, the zuppa would never take in pasta or rice but may include slices of toasted bread or croutons, which can be either part of the soup or served on the side. Vellutata is a type of soup that usually contains eggs or heavy cream. It is like a vegetable cream with a smooth, velvety texture. 

Maltagliati, Borlotti and Chestnut Minestra

Food tip

I often use a mix of borlotti and cannellini beans

Bologna bean soup with fresh pasta

serves 4

180g of dried beans
about ten chestnuts
120g of maltagliati, or other short pasta
2 level tablespoons of tomato paste
carrot, 1
1 yellow onion, small
water, 1 liter and half
red wine, 20 g
olive oil, butter and salt to taste
sage and bay leaf, a few leaves
parsley, washed and chopped to taste


Finely chop onion, carrot, and parsley and cook them for a few minutes over a low flame with olive oil and a knob of butter in a high-sided pan. Also add sage and bay leaves.

Add the beans and chestnuts. Stir again and cook for 3 minutes.
Deglaze with red wine over medium heat, let it evaporate while stirring, add the concentrate, stir, and then pour in the water.

Pour beans and chestnuts into the pan. Stir again and cook for 3 minutes. Deglaze with red wine over medium heat, let it evaporate while stirring, add the concentrate, stir, and then pour in the water.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cook for about 1 hour.

Remove 1/3 of the beans and some chestnuts from the pot.

Discard the sage and bay leaves.

Cream what is in the pot with the immersion blender. Adjust for salt.

Bring back to a simmer, add the maltagliati, whole beans, and chestnuts you set aside, lower the heat and cook for a few minutes, stirring.

Sprinkle with plenty of Parmesan cheese and serve the soup hot.


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