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Cranberry Bean Soup

Fresh cranberry beans (also known as shell beans or borlotti beans) are ivory and splotched with red dots, with a delicate, nutty taste. When they cook for an hour in the soup, they become delightfully soft and creamy.


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  • Active:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

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  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped pancetta (3 ounces)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 cups fresh cranberry beans (from 2 1/2 pounds in the shell)
  • 1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • One 3-inch-wide rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 1/2 cup freshly grated cheese for serving
  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound small-cut pasta, such as elbows
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


How to make this recipe

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until the fat has rendered, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, carrots and onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the water, beans, tomatoes, bay leaf and cheese rind, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until it is al dente. Drain.
  3. Discard the bay leaf and cheese rind from the soup. Season the soup with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley. Spoon the pasta into 6 bowls and ladle the soup on top. Serve with the grated cheese.

Make Ahead

The cranberry bean soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Contributed By Published December 2009

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