|Bean and Barley Soup: Minestra di Fagioli
3/4 cup dried borlotti (cranberry or pinto beans will work), soaked for 8 hours, drained and rinsed
1 medium potato, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 small carrot, roughly chopped
1 fresh bay leaf
2 fresh sage leaves
1 fresh rosemary sprig
4 sprigs Italian parsley
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a large stock pot, combine the beans, vegetables, herbs, garlic, and 1 quart water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, over very low heat for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, rinse the barley and place in a large saute pan with the pancetta, and pepper to taste. Cover with 1 quart of water and bring to a boil. Add the barley to the bean soup and cook for 1 more hour, until the barley is very tender.
Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Drizzle individual portions with olive oil.
Yield: 6 servings - Mario Batal