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Beans and Pasta

700-800g / 1 1/2-3/4lb cannellini beans (300-40og / 11-14oz if dried)
20og / 7oz rigatoni (short, fluted noodles)
2 cloves of garlic
1 rasher unsmoked, fatty bacon
1 sprig sage
1 sprig rosemary
1 hot red pepper
olive oil

Cook the beans over gentle heat for 45 minutes or an hour at the
most (an hour-and-a-half if they are dried, after soaking in water,
together with the herbs and garlic, for a couple of hours).

In either case, do not add salt which tends to harden the skins.
Purie by putting through a vegetable mill, carefully eliminating
the husks. Put the garlic, rosemary, sage and cubed bacon to saute
briefly in a saucepan with 4 tablespoons of oil. Pour on the bean
puree. Season lightly with salt and the red hot pepper to taste.
Stir to blend the flavours and bring slowly to the boil. Throw the
pasta into the purie and cook until firm, diluting with a little
of the bean cooking water, but only if necessary - the soup must
be thick and rather solid. It is excellent hot, but is absolutely
delicious if heated up with the addition of a drop of first-rate
olive oil.

If you prefer, leave a few beans whole and add them to the saucepan
with the purie. Some cooks hold that a carrot is not out of place
in the mirepoix (but then cut out the bacon), or that the soup
loses nothing if you add a little tomato, even tomato concentrate
(paste).

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