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Dining with Antonio Carluccio

Our favourite Italian chef Antonio Carluccio shares a few of his favourite things

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Aunt Dora’s Pasta and Bean Soup
This soup is served all over Italy but it varies from region to region – almost from family to family. The main differences between Northern and Southern versions are that in the South cannellini beans are used instead of borlotti and the beans are not crushed to thicken the soup. Also, Southern Italians make it with olive oil rather than other fats, which means the soup can be eaten cold, as is customary during summer. This recipe takes me back to wartime, when I used to spend my holidays with my favourite aunt, Dora, in the province of Avellino.

Serves 4

300g (11 oz) fresh cannellini beans or 150g (5oz) dried beans, soaked in water overnight and then drained
1.5 litres (2 ½ pints) stock (a cube will do)
2 very ripe small tomatoes, finely chopped
4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped          
4 basil leaves
300g (11oz) tubettini pasta
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling    
Place the beans in a large pan with the stock and tomatoes and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer until the beans are tender (about 1 ½ -2 hours).
Heat the oil in a separate pan, add the garlic and fry until it is golden brown but not burnt. Stir this into the soup with the basil. Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is soft (not too al dente in this case). Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and plenty of black pepper.
If you use canned beans, start by frying the garlic in the olive oil, then add the tomatoes, stock and beans and bring to the boil. Add the pasta and basil and simmer until the pasta is cooked.

Copyright© Antonio Carluccio

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