Tuscan Bean and Pasta Soup
This is a big, hefty soup, perfect for the winter months with a light main course to follow. Alternatively, it is a complete lunch, with just some cheese and a salad after it. Vegetarians might like to know that a vegetarian parmesan-style cheese is available from www.bookhamcheese.co.uk
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This recipe first appeared in Sainsbury’s Magazine (Feb 2000).
You need to start this soup a few hours ahead by rinsing the dried cannellini beans in a sieve under cold water and placing them in a saucepan with 3 pints (1.75 litres) of cold water. Next, bring them up to the boil and give them about 10 minutes before turning the heat off and leaving them to soak for 2 hours.
When you're ready to make the soup, first heat the oil in another large saucepan, add the finely chopped onion and let it cook for about 10 minutes without colouring. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Now add the tomato purée and fresh rosemary, stir for a minute and then pour in the beans, together with the water they were soaking in. Now bring everything up to simmering point and simmer gently for about an hour, or until the beans are tender. After this time, season with salt and pepper, then pour half the soup into a blender, switch on and blend until it's absolutely smooth.
Now return the puréed half to the pan to join the rest of the beans, bring back to a gentle simmer, then add the macaroni and simmer for a further 10-12 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the macaroni is cooked. Serve in hot soup bowls with lots of the Parmesan sprinkled over.
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