Chilly days call for a rich, hearty soup. This Croatian Pasta Fazol is made with beans, pasta, and pancetta, and is one of Croatia’s most popular dishes. When we saw this recipe in the new Dalmatia book, we couldn’t wait to try it. Serve it with crusty bread and a full-bodied wine. According to author Ino Kuvačić, “the secret ingredient to making this delicious meal is the pancetta fat and garlic paste. It’s crucial to soak the dried beans overnight then blanch them in water to remove the toxins – your stomach will thank you!”
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- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) beans (cannellini/lima or borlotti/cranberry)
- 4 bay leaves
- 200 g (7 oz) smoked pork shanks or ribs
- 2 litres (68 fl oz/8 cups) water or beef stock
- 200 g (7 oz) brown onions, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)
- 150 g (5 ½ oz) smoked pancetta with lots of white fat (must be flat and smoked)
- 8 garlic cloves
- 100 g (3 ½ oz) pasta (penne or small tubetti)
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, to garnish
- Soak the beans overnight. The following day, drain them and put them in a large saucepan with the bay leaves. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Drain the water from the pan. Don’t season the beans yet.
- In another large saucepan, put the pork shanks, water or stock, vegetables, tomato paste and the red meat trimmed from the pancetta. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 1 hour until the vegetables are soft.
- Meanwhile, finely chop the white fat part of the pancetta and blend it in a food processor with the garlic to make a smooth paste.
- After the soup has been cooking for 1 hour, remove the pancetta meat and pork bones and add the blanched beans and garlic and fat paste. Simmer for another 30 minutes until the beans are soft and starting to break up. If you want to thicken the soup, scoop out a couple of cups of the soup (including vegetables and meat), blend in a food processor, then return this to the pan before adding the pasta.
- Add the pasta and cook for another 5 minutes, adding more water or stock if necessary. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Except and photo printed with permission from Dalmatia: Recipes from Croatia’s Mediterranean Coast by Ino Kuvačić, published by Hardie Grant Books May 2017.
Used the leftovers of a spiral ham that we smoked, not the meat in recipe. No extra salt needed. Used penne and double the amount but would like a smaller/shorter pasta next time. Might also sauté the veggies before adding everything else. Very good! Will make again!
Hi Erica, Great idea! I’m so glad you enjoyed it too! -Sarah
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