Gennaro’s Pasta and Bean Soup

Following Jean’s review of Around the World in 80 Dishes, it’s time to try one of the dishes in the book. This Pasta and Bean Soup will delight the taste buds.

(Serves 6)

500g/1lb 2oz dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight in cold water
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus the bottle for drizzling
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
2 small carrots, finely chopped
100g/3½oz pancetta, finely chopped
1 large potato, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 fresh sage leaves
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
A handful of fresh parsley stalks, finely chopped
2.5 litres/4¼ pints vegetable stock
200g/7oz pearl barley
Grated Parmesan cheese, to finish


Drain the soaked borlotti beans. Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots and pancetta and cook until softened. Stir in the potato and herbs, then add the drained beans. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for 1½ hours.

Rinse the pearl barley in a sieve, then drain and add to the pan. Continue to cook at a gentle simmer on a low heat for a further 1¼ hours. Check that the beans and barley are cooked before removing from the heat (if they’re not, cook for longer).

When it’s ready, serve the soup ladled into bowls, with a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of Parmesan for an extra rich hit.

This recipe is from the book Around the World in 80 Dishes.
David Loftus, with a foreword by Jamie Oliver
Alantic Books, 2012
RRP: $49.99