Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pasta e Fagioli with Christmas Lima Beans

Last fall at our restaurant, we made a pasta fagioli soup inspired by a recipe in Domenica Marchetti's The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy.  This is a beautiful book that we purchased at our favorite cookbook store, The Cook's Library, in L.A.  This soup was my first exposure to Christmas lima beans, and I was so enamored of them that I decided to grow them in our garden this summer.  These giant limas are hearty and filling, the perfect bean for a soup eaten on a blustery autumn day (in Houston that means it's in the 80's).

These limas are positively gigantic, and when dried they are a lovely speckled burgundy.  The fresh beans are even prettier in shades of white, pink and fuscia. If you have read our previous entries bemoaning the long and slow process to harvest, you know that Christmas limas do not provide instant gratification to the gardener.  The vines started in April are lush and full, but it is only now that we are harvesting our first beans.   At home, we decided to make a vegetarian spin on Marchetti's soup using fresh Christmas limas, rosemary, and cayenne pepper from the garden.  Good things do indeed come to those who wait. 

Pasta e Fagioli with Christmas Lima Beans
(based on the recipe by Domenica Marchetti)


2       cups      Fresh Christmas Limas
                      (the original recipe uses 2 cups dried limas soaked
1                    rib celery, minced
1                    yellow onion, finely chopped
3       cloves   garlic, minced
1       Tbs       fresh rosemary, minced
1/2    cup       olive oil
8       cups      vegetable stock
                      sea salt to taste
1/8     tsp       finely chopped dried cayenne pepper
8        oz        orzo pasta
                     parmesan cheese
                     homemade pesto
                     ciabatta or similar bread     

  1. In large pot, combine beans, celery, onion, garlic and rosemary.  Add 1/2 cup olive oil and stir to combine.
  2. Add vegetable stock and bring to boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer over low until beans are tender.  The fresh beans cook much faster than dried, so keep an eye on your soup as it cooks.
  4. Puree 1/2 the soup and add back to remainder.  Season as needed with salt, and add minced cayenne.
  5. Return soup to boil and add pasta.  Reduce to gentle simmer until pasta is cooked.  The pasta will thicken the soup considerably.
  6. To serve, drizzle with olive oil and top with freshly grated parmesan.
  7. We eat the soup with pesto crostinis. To make the crostinis, brush both sides of slices of ciabatta or similar bread with pesto and toast in a pan or on the grill. 

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  1. Beautiful beans, and your soup sounds delicious! I have terrible luck with growing beans, but I'm going to try again next year.

  2. Wonderful beans and with the pesto crostini sounds great too!

  3. Nice! I am going down to Houston at the end of October/beginning of November. What restaurant do ya'll own?

  4. Sounds delicious! I love lima beans. My grandfather used to grow them on his farm when I was growing up. The photo's are beautiful!

  5. Are these similar to the Spanish Judion beans? I love those---wonderful flavor/texture.

  6. It is true! They do not provide instant gratification! I yielded about 3/4 cup dried so far, and the rest (about half a paper grocery bag full) I picked tonight, in the dark, because it is supposed to frost (no Indian summer in Indianapolis this year). Thanks for the recipe idea for fresh beans. And the photos are very helpful in understanding the maturity progression!

  7. We don't have that kind of beans. They look gorgeous though. I think we only have dried lima beans but they're imported. I hope i could try this recipe.


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